Thursday

Just a sandwich

It comes back to me as I'm spilling rocket onto a wholemeal wrap, slicing cucumber and spring onions: my sister, Shân, asking me if I'd like a salad sandwich.

It was hot that week during the summer of 1984. I was still living in Jersey and had come home to Wales for a visit. My nephew, Gareth, is a baby. My niece, Sarah, is seven. My brother-in-law, Stephen, has driven the four of us here, 65 miles from Port Talbot, in their racing green mini: the M4, the A48 to Carmarthen, then west along the A477 past the farms of great-grandmothers we are yet to learn about, towards Pembrokeshire and Freshwater East, to the first floor flat with a tiny balcony overlooking the bay.
Freshwater East bay in 2011
After dropping us off he has headed home again to pack the rest of the week's necessities into the little car. 

Hungry Writing Prompt
Write about packing the car for a road trip

This is the only photo I can find: me and the kids outside the flat's front door just before sunset one evening. But there are more, I know, showing me and Shân failing miserably at the hula-hoop and staring in astonishment at Sarah whose little hips shiggle the hoop around rhythmically and effortlessly. 

But I do not need a photo to remind me of the sandwich: the evening sunlight and shadows reaching the kitchen table where my sister is buttering a small and soft sliced loaf, layering lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and onion on one slice, adding salt, adding the second slice, placing her hand on top and cutting it all in half. She hands me the plate. The bread is soft, the salad crisp. We may have had wine: a naturally sparkling Portuguese Vinho Verde I used to bring home with me.

I do not think I am a great help with the kids on the practical level of bathing and changing, apart from holding little Gareth and giving him a bottle, or playing with Sarah or reading her a bedtime story, but I know Shân is glad of my company. And I am happy to be here too, with my big sister who I shared a bedroom with for 17 years, who is now a mother and wife, roles I cannot imagine for myself. 

I am 26, have no idea that in less than eight months I will meet the man who I will spend the next 30 years with. She is 29, too busy with two small children to imagine the roads ahead of her. But despite our ignorance the future is pulsing at the horizon, the world already turning roads in our directions. The sun is so bright tonight. A child calls out in her sleep. 

bread, lettuce, salt