The Weekend Shift

A special relationship develops between aunt and nephew with visits to Canterbury Museum.

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Adults, Young Adults, Quick Read
Heather McQuillan | The commuting Book
Heather McQuillan

Sep 22   ●  2 min read

It’s what I could do to help Fleur out. Family is family. The last Friday each month, we’d drive into the city from opposite directions, and in the motel car park she’d hand over Josh and his bag of things then drive off for her break. It was a good arrangement.
I’d hold my nephew close, kiss the top of his head. His hair smelled of whichever shampoo was on special that month so I don’t have a scent-memory, just the consciousness of lip-touch to hair.
He’d squirm. “Molesterer!”
“That’s Auntie Dearest to you!”

We had the museum for wet days, taking turns to choose which exhibit to visit next.
“The Dinosaurs!”
“Antarctica!”
“The drawers of bugs!”
Racing from one to the other in haphazard fashion, back and forth, tugging to have our own way.
“The Victorian Street!”
“Hey, that’s one of mine!”
“Mine now!”
Those weekends sorted themselves into rituals. We ate out for lunch and cooked dinners together on the tiny motel stovetop. We bought doughnuts for breakfast, and later, as sophistication gained traction, pain au chocolat. We wrapped candlewick bedspreads around our knees to watch Sunday morning cartoons or play Xbox. Mid-morning, the crunch of wheels on gravel signalled Fleur’s restoration to motherhood.
“Lifesaver,” Fleur would mouth over his head. As if it were a chore.

She found a new man on one of those weekends off. They settled down. Stayed home.
At his 18th birthday I hugged Josh tight, his hair too high up for me to smell.
“Molesterer,” he whispered in my ear, and he lifted me off my feet.