It’s a golden day. A wintery white-gold glowing day. Really the only leaves left on the trees are the golden ones, and they fall all around you in a bright shower. The boys flew out of the house, gleaming, a bat and an owl with fiendish expressions and madly flapping wings. They chased each other down to the towpath where fallen leaves of every color trail along the surface of the fast dark water like strings of christmas lights. Isaac loves this weather because he was born in this weather. I tell them about the day they were each born, unseasonably warm for November, unseasonably cool for July, both perfect perfect days. When we got to the part of the towpath where the trees have brown-paper leaves that smell like burnt sugar, a whole pack of teenage girls ran by. A track team, maybe. They were very serious, staring straight ahead. I know they know Malcolm, they’re not much older in actual chronology, but they didn’t say hello. He was quiet and thoughtful in his owl suit, for a minute or two. I thought nothing gold can stay, nothing gold can stay. And then he raced ahead after Isaac. Clio pulled me ahead and the boys fell behind, lost in serious conversation.
I looked back at them, with their bright heads bent together, and I wondered what they were talking about. It was what they would do if somebody took Daddy and me away. They’d walk miles to Dad’s shop and get a bow and arrow. They’d buy a thousand nail guns. They’d save up their money for a paintball gun and fill it with pebbles. Then they’d find us somehow. We got to where we were going, a big field, and heavy indigo clouds rolled in, and the trees were bright like fire against the dark sky.
Everbody flew around the field, and Isaac gave me hugs to knock me over. His skin smells beautiful, like sunshine and summer. I told Malcolm it wouldn’t rain, but of course he was right and it did rain, a fine cold rain. Isaac put up his ghost bat hood. We made it home, and the boys filled the house with the scent of clementines while they waited for warm lunch. Just a bat and an owl sitting together and resting a moment, before they return to their dizzying flight.
Here’s Park Life, by Blur, because my boys are completely obsessed with it at the moment.