There was a moment each day that I came to dread, Josh. You would turn to me and say, “let’s chat”. By then we had been sitting together, mostly just the two of us, alone in a single room, for months.
“I’ve run out of stories,” I’d say having told you all the tales I could remember about my childhood and Dad’s. We’d talked through the themes in every super hero movie, I knew more than I cared to about some of the lesser know DC characters and I’d regaled you with the plots of lame 80’S TV shows.
But it occurs to me that there are so many stories I forgot to tell you, my Monkey-Puffin. So many stories about you. So, in no particular order, with no particular timetable, here are the stories I didn't tell you.
Here is the Book of Josh.
I cited the Aqua Tots teacher when I told Dad we were going to practice our swimming but there may have been just a tiny desire to recreate that Nirvana album cover.
I slipped into the water. You leapt straight into my arms from the edge. I cinched you up tight against me, feeling the tickle of your Little Swimmers nappy and marvelled at how your tiny legs clamped around me; how your body seemed perfectly designed to snuggle into my waist.
“Are you ready?” I asked. “Remember you tap, tap, tap when it’s time to come up.” I tap, tap, tapped on your shoulder to show you how. You answered with a giggle and a kick of your legs.
“One. Two Three.” I said. We each took a giant breath and, holding you so tight that I feared I might push the air out of you, we slid under the water.
I turned to you, under the surface, and saw the tips if your hair floating away from your head. A single bubble of water blossomed from your nostril. You opened your eyes and looked around. Fearless. Curious. Trusting. I remember fretting that I was unworthy of such trust from someone already so precious.
And then you were tapping on my shoulder. We broke through the surface. I thought you’d be scared but you threw back your head and laughed and wriggled. The sound of pure gleefulness.
“Ready to swim this time?” I asked. “All the way to the other side?” You tapped on my shoulder and we began again.
“One. Two. Three.” More giant breaths but this time as we slid under the surface I pushed my feet against the wall of the pool and sent us shooting off to the other end. I could feel the currents of water shift to accommodate the ungainly shape of our two welded-together bodies. It was a long breath, longer than I anticipated and, as my hand felt for the decking edge I was sure you’d be breathless and teary.
“Okay?” I asked.
You tapped on my shoulder and commanded, “Again!”.