Dad, with some coaxing, sits down next to me on the bench outside his room. Shoulder to shoulder, the both of us facing the fence, beyond which the motorway sounds like the ocean. The cubes of beige cake on the tray on my lap are tasteless, but rich enough to talk about when I can’t keep mentioning Mum and the house. Dad runs his fingertips across one cheek and over his chin, aware to the touch of the shave I just gave him.
I tell him about the sound of the sea, and ask if he’s ever been fishing. He answers with the ‘yes’ which is now simply his acknowledgement that a question has been asked. I know he’s never fished. But it’s what we’re doing now, on a warm October Friday afternoon – this crumby bench in the land-locked, horizonless garden, is a riverbank, or rocky outcrop. Us wordlessly together on a shore.