Miles shuffled around to the back of the house, where the cheap PVC patio doors still held firm against his vigorous shaking. He pulled open the wider side gate on the other side of the house and jogged around to the front, stopping to retrieve one of his slippers, which had slid off. Morven didn’t like him wearing his house slippers outside. He knew the front door was a waste of time; heavy, dependable. He made a roof shape with his hands to shade him from the sunlight as he peered through the front window, trying to see beyond the voiles, a voyeur into his own house, his own life. Esme was sitting by the TV, playing with her Lego, constructing sentences in her own, private language. Miles knocked on the window and she shuffled over, giggling at the game she was playing with her Daddy. Miles held his hand up to the pane and Esme did the same; father and daughter together, save for millimetres of glass.

When Miles turned around the man was directly behind him, too close. ‘Do you have a mobile phone?’ Miles asked, his voice fracturing, new cracks in a wall.

‘Don’t have one. Why do I need to be contacted all hours of the bloody day. Don’t believe in them.’

‘It’s not really something you have to believe in… it’s…’ Miles looked up and down his street, hunting in the architecture of lampposts and speed bumps and parked cars and trees fluffy with blossom for what ‘it’ was, for the end of his sentence.

‘Funny,’ the man continued, looking straight at Miles, locking eyes. ‘This is the second time this has happened to me today. Exact same thing.’

Hazel brown, thought Miles. His eyes are hazel brown. He crouched down on the front step, whispering reassurances through the letterbox, which drew Esme to leave the living room and come to him, holding her face up to the letterbox. Miles reached through and held her arm, gently, realising that if he were to cling too tightly it would upset her, that she might pull away: ‘Don’t worry, Princess, Daddy will find a way to get back in, really really soon. Promise.’

‘Just think, twice in one day.’ The man was chuckling now, shaking his head as he turned back to his van, leaving Miles on his threshold, holding his daughter through the letter box, locked outside with the sun and the cars and the rodents and the blossom in the trees.

Simon Morrison just turned 40, and has been a writer for some 15 years, writing for the likes of Loaded and the Guardian but principally for music magazines. A collection of his journalism, Discombobulated, was published last year in the UK and US by Headpress.

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One Response to “Control”

  1. October 25, 2011 at 8:12 pm, Pauline said:

    Loved it – perfect description, nothing superfluous and I moved with it right to the end. Felt helpless on the father’s behalf. Entirely plausible.
    What happened?


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