2 June 2014
The initial hum of Ryan’s saloon gave way to a confident growl as he cruised along the road. The streets were largely clear, what few school children there had been running around excitedly had all dispersed by now. Looking at the cool grey pavements Ryan thought they looked almost clean, as if they belonged to a different time as well as place. He liked the brief moment of peace on the streets as if he had the whole of Govan to himself. How different it could have been.
Five o’clock and the sun was still clear in the sky as Ryan pulled up outside a row of identical sandstone tenements. After methodically checking that nothing of value was visible in his car he got out. Double locking his car he held the keys in his hand going up to one of the doors before letting himself in. Going up two flights of stairs he opened a second door to be met by panicked shouting.
“Who is it? Who is it?!” The worry in the voice made his heart sink. “It’s me mum, it’s alright,” said Ryan as he emerged into a room where all the furniture seemed lower every time he entered it. Jean was sat, half-enclosed in a massive flowery armchair. The fear on her face was fading, but he could see her chest still heaving. “I’ve told you before to phone me first before you come up,” she snapped. “Sit down.” “Sorry mum, I came straight here from town and I forgot It’s alright. How are you doing?” Her deep breaths forced her words out. “I was fine until you showed up. But I’m sure I’ll be fine.” There was an awkward pause while they both tried to think of something to say. “Your brother started today. I don’t know when he finishes, he’s not phoned me.” “Really.” “Have you not been talking to him again?” Ryan shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “We don’t have much in common, I don’t know what to tell you.” “That doesn’t matter. He’s still your family, and your family is important. You should make the effort.”
Ryan and Jean spent some more time talking, mostly about his work. For all the awkwardness he could feel when visiting her he always felt at ease when talking about himself, and he could see the pride in her face whenever he became really animated. “Do you have all the things ready for Friday?” “It’s all coming together and there’s only one or two small things left but they shouldn’t be a problem. Are you looking forward to it?” “Yes, I’m only worried about some of the people who might show up. On Sunday, I’m out walking, this daft wee boy near knocks me down and barely looks back. Then I start talking to a police later, but he doesn’t care. Honestly. Where are things going?” Where have they gone, thought Ryan. He tried putting on his concerned voice that he always used when he visited. “I wish you would come and live with me and Emma, mum. We have the room for you, we’d really like you to,” he began. Jean was already shaking her head. “No. I’m fed up telling you, I’d lived here with your father for nearly fifty years, I’m not moving. I wish you would have more pride in where you came from.” Ryan knew by now it was time to go. “I don’t know if I’ll see you before Friday but I’ll try and phone if there’s anything special that’s going to happen you need to know about.”
They embraced and Ryan left, locking the door behind him at his mother’s insistence. He walked down the stairs quickly out to his car which he was relieved to see was still intact. Driving out of Govan and back into the city Ryan felt a cool wave of calm come over him. Going into the city he felt at home as the various buildings started blocking out the light. The feeling he was entering something bigger than him, that he could still contribute to, it reinforced his sense of place in the world. Taking his box of cakes up to his office his confident smile made its way back onto his face. His arrival was greeted warmly. After a few pleasantries he was alone in his office, able to enjoy the view of the city. He leaned back in his chair and watched the sun move along the sky for a few hours.