TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO
I was walking at the feet of the old quarry when I heard the word 'divorce' for the first time. I was seven.
The giant marble fell from my pocket as we crossed. I could see it sitting at the bottom of the shallow basin. I'd found it ages before, under a cabinet in my favourite restaurant. I insisted that I could reach it. But my mum forbade me from going back and trying. It was a winter walk, the two of us alone.
My friends are demanding to know the location of my secret den. It's underground, and I can spend days in there, I always tell them. And the treasures I keep there, it would take me too long to list them all. They believe me, perhaps because they know what my father does. It's been going on for months. I keep evading. Later, alone, I watch adults come and go from the shops in short sleeved shirts.
The diggers have arrived to prepare the ground for the bridge's piers. In our small town, this is big news. I come out: the den is doomed, and I abandoned it. I couldn't risk being seen there, I add gravely. That night, little brother disappears. Darkness starts to fall. I hear my father running in a breakneck hurry down the stairs, the noise of a jacket thrusted on in haste. Hours pass, twilight hangs. I've never been up this late.