Despite the fact that they knew each other, they also knew that they had to act as if they didn’t.
Rob stared at the screen of his phone from under his cap. He had a sport app open, but the words might as well have been in Swahili for all that he took them in.
Gareth knew why they were there. He’d brought Bella and Poppy along as an excuse to get out of the shopping. He looked after his Fiona’s bags as he sat on the bench.
Fiona was keeping herself busy in the boutique store across the square. She rifled through dress after dress, knowing she wasn’t going to buy anything, but also positioning herself to look out of the window surreptitiously, watching her husband oblivious on the seat opposite.
Rob had ‘bumped into’ Gareth like this a number of times over the years, a few words passing between them, as they slowly but surely, built up their relationship. He was mature enough at 18 to be beyond the grunting stage, but still – understandably – found it difficult to communicate with the man he knew to be his father.
Gareth got a lot of pleasure out of these fleeting moments. He wanted to see his son, to get to know him, but he also wanted to keep his secret firmly safe from Fiona. She wouldn’t understand, his indiscretion unforgivable after so many years that there was no point in talking to her about it, in letting her know, in welcoming Rob into their lifes.
Fiona had known about Rob for years. She also knew that her husband’s unfaithfulness wasn’t habitual; it was a slip, one night’s drunken recklessness nearly two decades ago. She had forgiven him, but would never own up to the fact that she knew about Rob, that she was jealous of Gareth’s relationship with his son, that she was guilt-ridden that she was unable to provide him with children of their own. But she would never allow Rob to be a part of their lives, their set up, their social group.
Of that she was certain.
(This is a story based on a candid street photo shot I took. In no way are the people mentioned real, and this should not be seen as a true reflection of thee two men’s lives.)