Gerald – I don’t know what I am going to see when I get there, and I’m worried that I won’t be able to handle it.
Sonya – He’s still our son.
Gerald – No, I know, but. I’ve never. When I was very little we had a neighbour, Mr Smythe, and he was missing an arm, his left. All of his shirts were pinned up on the left side, all of them, and as he didn’t have a wife or family I knew that he must have done it himself. And I remember thinking how sad that must have been, to take a good shirt and pin up one of the arms because you knew it would never be used. I would say that to myself when he walked by, never ever ever ever will I use me left arm, and I’d imagine the voice of a troll, even though Mr Smythe was unfailingly cheerful and polite. And I think he liked me and my family, because he was always talking to mum and dad, and every birthday he sent me a card, by the post, even though he lived next door. I’ve kept them. But. I couldn’t get that troll voice out of my mind, and I could never stop staring at the pinned up shirt arm.
Sonya – Your son is still your son. He’s not a troll, or anything. He’s just himself.
Gerald – Yes, but I worry that my inside self won’t see that, and that while I will be all smiles on the outside, what will I think on the inside?
Sonya – We can pretend, dear. I’m worried, too. I am. I remember the first time he was sick, really ill I mean, and I didn’t know what to do, and nothing helped, and he was screaming and crying and unable to help himself. And I hated him for a while, then, but it wasn’t his fault. I don’t want to hate him now, either. And it’s not his fault.
Gerald. No. No. No. Our poor boy. Poor, poor boy. I can’t imagine he is looking forward to seeing us, either.
Part of the Railroad Perfection series