The drop off

She was such a picture of her mother that Kevin had had to compose himself in the toilet to stop her seeing his tears. Her uniform pressed so crisp and straight. Her hair in ponytails—Myra had asked for them because, she said, that’s how the big girls went to school. Kevin knew those big girls were just picture book illustrations, but Myra’s big eyes left him no choice. She had him put ribbons around each one. An hour before they needed to leave Myra was ready. It was that determination, the way she met the world head-on, that had finally made him crack. It was Monica all over.

Before she’d reached the school gate Myra had started introducing herself to other kids. She burst through her classroom door before Kevin could show her the peg for her schoolbag.

He kissed her good-bye. Myra didn’t need him. As he turned to leave one of the mothers, from a cluster near the door, approached. ‘We’re having a morning tea for the mums on Wednesday.’

It was too early for explanations. Thanking her, Kevin took an invitation. He nodded at the other fathers—each, it seemed, in the tow of a mother. Doing their duty. At the gate he began jogging. He needed to catch the 9:15 or risk his boss’s ire.