Me and your Dad don’t talk about you because you were never a real person.
We could have gone to the beach today. I could have put away ideas of being successful for the time being and loaded you into your pushchair, made an elaborate picnic for the two of us. We could have strolled along, you gurgling, me matronly, inspiring smiles from strangers because we are wholesome and fulfilling our purpose.
You are a redhead called Charlie. We have to encourage you not to touch yourself by giving you rusks almost constantly until you are old enough to do it only in private. You get pregnant by thirteen and are unable to be faithful to one man. You come back to our house every other year when you get caught out again.
You are a boy called Charles, born with extra thumbs that need to be sliced off. You grow up hiding your dual scars from the handsome boys in school, terrified they will find out and call you freakazoid or incest-spawn. You grow up to have hands that won’t keep still. You make the perfect husband.
You are underweight and blonde, emerging like a shrivelled purple fish. Seeing you we know you are a Thomas like your granddad. We shake your hand like you are already the distinguished gent you are destined to become. We put our mouths over your nose, laughing at how wide your blue eyes get. No matter how many children we have you are always our favourite.
Before we go to bed we kiss you goodnight, neither of us mentioning what we considered.