“Mum, don’t stare.”
“I’m not, dear.” she said.
God. But everyone was looking at the six foot five giant wading through the grey sludge of home-bound commuters. The rain pooled at our feet as we clung to the spindly stem of my black umbrella, it shivering more than us in the wind. A Poundland Christmas present from a girlfriend (now ex-) which had stubbornly refused to break. The same Christmas we’d got the letter, in a slanting hand recognisably his own. Mum had gasped then cried then fainted, then had to have three cups of tea before we actually got to read the bloody thing. It said he was doing alright. Said he was happy. Said he wanted to see us, if we did. And I really did. So here I was, on a wet February night stood outside the tube, waiting. More people looked up now at the figure walking towards the bright, heady beams of the station. Traffic taillights illuminated his hulking arms and barrel chest. Puddles, like distant lakes, splashed at the footfalls of his stride. And dark stubble lay beneath the pale foundation plastered on his face, like grass flattened under the white lines of the rugby pitches we used to stand beside, cheering. His red nail-polished fingers clung delicately to a wooden hanger held over his shoulder, upon which a plastic-sheeted blue dress curled in the wind like a flag.
“Remember Mum, it’s Anna now, not Andy.”