‘It was just an accident. There was no reason.’ He wants to sit down, you can see it in his body language, the uncertain bobbing between standing and the hard backed chair.
It’s ridiculous, of course. There are always reasons. He was rushing home to watch the match on TV; he only had a provisional licence and was driving alone; the road was wet and the brake pads were worn. All small decisions he made that led to this.
There’s a spot of dried blood on his neck from where he’s caught himself shaving and his shirt’s grey from overwashing, crinkled as if it’s just been pulled from the laundry basket.
The sight makes me furious. That he didn’t deem this day important enough to buy a new shirt. That he’s too lazy to iron the old one.
That my son isn’t worth the effort.
Finally he sits. I sense his relief at being out of the spotlight and my anger rises again. So much has centred around him – what he did, what he thought, his excuses – and not around Jamie. As if the loss of our boy is merely a supporting act to the main attraction.
Someone speaks, but I’m not sure who and he’s rising from his seat, being led from the dock. Just for a moment he looks up, looks right at me, quickly looks away.
But not before I’ve seen him, seen his smallness, how his fear has shrunk him, has burrowed inside, hollowing him out until there’s nothing but terror, hard and black and heavy. His shoelace flaps loose, pattering on the floor tiles. He’s so young, so very young.
And I’m crying.