The widescreen TV is the only source of light. Across the threshold now I begin to gag a little. The floor is littered with rags and if I go in I’ll have to push through or step onto them.
The boy is behind me and waiting I turn back toward him and he stares up at me perplexed. I gaze across at the TV and the dad in “Little House on the Prairie” is explaining that germs can’t be seen with the human eye.
‘I used to watch this when I was a kid,’ I say.
‘Yeah,’ bored, he pushes past me and kicks through the carpet of mess.
The rags are clothes and there are also old newspapers, fast food wrappers, crushed cans and plastic bottles, most of which still contain a little of their once fizzy drink.
He sits with his mother on the sofa and they wrestle for the remote. Mum in charge the boy leaps up and stands in front of the screen. She points but he moves to block her again and again. Mum, writhing on the sofa, can’t win. The boy is much too quick and, the rubbish at his feet, he shuffles and spins until he notices me. I think he had forgotten me and now he stops.
The channel switches and mum raises her arms in triumph.