I wish I could hold this moment forever in my mind. You, in tiny sleeves and trousers with your stuffed bear sat at your side. We’re by the docks at the lakehouse where it smells of pine and stagnant pond. There is rotten wood and earthy moistened soil and there is no sound but the ripple of water and some ducks chattering somewhere in the distance. Your father is painting inside. If this moment was painted, it would be in greens and blues and browns and we would be frozen featureless figures present; actors in a scene of time. Abstract.

The world is still, the lakehouse as unchanged since the honeymoon nights and dawns with your father, but you are charged with possibility. Our world is full of those unpredictable moments; your stuffed bear is not yet named; your skin does not yet hold scars; I have yet to kiss any bruises away; I am yet to concern my attention towards newly formed wrinkles. I wonder how many of those memories you will think of when you are older, and link back to this time at the lakehouse. I could stare at you for hours.

‘Perhaps’ is at the centre of our time together. I am full of ‘perhapses’.

Your eyes are globes, as blue as your father’s, your hair as fine and milky blonde as his. Will it darken to brown like mine as you get older? Will it grey at the sides like his? You look so much like him, but it is not a comfort. For now, you are mine.

You reach up for me, a reassurance that I’m there; a comforting need for my presence. I have never been needed before and it is a strange sensation. Will I ever be needed again after you? You pull yourself into me and I smell your hair. You smell of early childishness; of breast milk and tapioca. You smell of the residue of acrylic paint and chalk and I nearly turn my head to return to the presence of our lakehouse, where your father still paints inside at the dewy, algaed window where his presence is nought but a shadow.

You babble and you thrum with the attempt of an unspoken conversation. What words will you say? Will they be poetic and lovely? Will they be cursed and dull? Will they be little or a lot? Will they hurt or will they –

(the phone rings once, twice, thrice in the lakehouse)

– cure? Perhaps words will be your lot in life? Perhaps they will be your tool, your employment and you will persuade politicians or lovers to fall at your feet with the quick flick of a pen yet you can barely hold a bottle. What decisions will those hands make? What blame in your life will you take?

I wish I could hold this moment forever in my mind.

A tiny hand presses against my cheek and you smile, toothless, at me. You are warm and cocooning in your touch and I feel like I could melt like butter into your embrace. How many conquests will you wrap your arms around? How many embraces do I get before your arms forget me? You’re all too much and all too present at once. I am full of love and I could burst but-

(the phone rings once, twice, thrice in the lakehouse)

This is the threat of it all. ‘Perhaps’ is an anxious word. ‘Perhaps’ is a fleeting word. ‘Perhaps’ is at the centre of our time together. I am full of ‘perhapses’. Perhaps you will sleep through the night; perhaps you will get sick and die; perhaps you will beam and shine; perhaps you will take your future lover here; (perhaps she won’t call at the lakehouse tonight) perhaps we will run out of nappies or baby cream; perhaps our car will break down on the way home-

(perhaps she won’t call at the lakehouse tonight)

Perhaps you will scream and cry; perhaps you will sleep the two hour journey home.

(perhaps she won’t call at the lakehouse tonight)

(the phone rings once, twice, thrice in the lakehouse)

There’s our boat. I forgot about our boat, (We ate sandwiches spread with jam rather than butter; cruised around with pretty lumps of cake and round biscuits instead of civilised crackers or cheese, instead of wine, olives or fruit. How many loaves did we take from our mothers to feed the ducks? How many stolen hours of kissing had we chanced before our mothers coddled us after dark?) it lies there now, like a corpse that buoys on the surface of the water. It bobs sadly; like the hungry ducks we once fed. It’s as aged and algae infested as the lakehouse is. It needs a burial, it needs to be burnt. Perhaps it’s still water-worthy.

If this moment was painted, it would be in greens and blues and browns and we would be frozen featureless figures present

Your sudden cry brings me back to this moment, here, now, to the docks by the lakehouse; to your frustrated cry as you warm my face and as your father paints inside.

(the phone rings once, twice, thrice in the lakehouse)

I am fed up with perhapses. I am fed up with the anxious. I am fed up with the smell of paint and acrylic and the presence of him in your features.

(perhaps she won’t call at the lakehouse tonight)

I am climbing in the boat. You are sat in my lap. Splintered oars are in my hands. You are curled up in blankets. You are still crying. We disturb the water and make ripples and the ducks become louder as we glide away from the lakehouse and away from your father who paints inside.

We will find a moment without perhapses, create a moment of stillness in time.

We glide away from the lakehouse where your father paints inside. The phone rings once, twice, thrice in the lakehouse. The lakehouse disappears from sight.

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