“Now, the good thing about living here, Fran,” she said, “is that nobody mithers me about me parking.”
I couldn’t argue with that, I supposed. We’d seeped out of the car twelve hours previously, in the dark, sticky with sweat and covered in some mysterious dust that had wafted in through the open windows as we bowled along the highway in a haphazard manner. No sign of a parking ticket or even a disgruntled neighbour. Back home, somebody would be trying to shoehorn a Micra either side, and tutting as they did it. But this wasn’t back home.
I’d never expected to go on a road trip with my mother. Actually, I’d never expected to see her again, to be honest. She left me a note when she left; explained it had all been something of a mistake but that she may as well make the best of it. She did call me a few days later. “The good thing about starting again, Fran,” she said, “is you don’t have any obligations. Bye, love.” And that was that.
Only it wasn’t. It wasn’t that at all. A few weeks later, I started getting strange things in the post. Bits of maps and timetables; pages ripped from travel guides; clippings from foreign newspapers; and once: a tiny pressed flower. Then I received notice that £4000 had been wired to my account. The same day I got a postcard: “I’ll pick you up in Paraguay!” And that, it transpired, actually was that.
I thought about whether I should go. I leafed through the scrapbook of the things she’d sent me (I’d done all nice edges and some glitter), and I had a vermouth, and I thought, “Fuck it, why not?”
Anyway, there’s nothing stops my mum when she gets an idea in her head. It would have been Dad’s birthday tomorrow. She’s baking a cake. She’s got all his shoes lined up under her bedroom window. I didn’t even know she’d brought them.