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Chapter 3

Goris came back last week from his trip. He said that he had had a good time and felt more relaxed but I know that something is still not right. I know that he is struggling to believe in what he’s telling me. He can lie to himself but not me. I just don’t understand him. He wanted to have money so badly and now he is rich beyond his wildest dreams and it’s not enough for him. What more is there? It’s been a long time since we sold out and he’s done nothing. I don’t know how much more I can take. We haven’t had sex since he came back. I don’t care but he usually does. I don’t understand it. I had a very painful Brazilian for him and when I unveiled it, he just looked at it as if it was something strange and carried on reading on his laptop. Every night since he came back I wanted to make love but he said that he didn’t feel like it. He had too much on his mind. Since when did his mind ever influence his cock? That’s what makes me believe that he really is going through something serious.

“I love him. I really do but I feel helpless. I can’ talk to him. He just closes up or gets angry and says I don’t understand.”

“Look I’ve known him for years, a long time before you and I’m telling you, he just needs time to work it out for himself. He was always a bit odd. In college, you remember him, one night he’d be out of his brains on drink and drugs and looking to get laid and the next night he’d be at home alone, having bored us all with his sudden attack of morals. I blame his dad.”

“He always did worship him. He wants his approval and money isn’t the way. I think if his father could just show how proud he was of Goris’s achievement then maybe he wouldn’t be searching the planet for answers. But you know his father – professional snob, business is for those who can’t. That is the root of it. It’s crazy at his age and all he wants is his father to acknowledge him. I tried to bring the subject up and I told him that now he can really do something to make his dad proud. He said that his father had already made his feelings clear, that the money was dirty money, ‘unearned’ apparently and undeserved. I phoned him after that and told him that he had no right but you know what he’s like, he’s got a way of making you feel small and unimportant. I ended up apologizing to him.”

“No point talking to the old man. I talked to Goris. I told him that he’s searching for something that isn’t there. I told him that the questions are a waste of time because there are no answers but he doesn’t see it like that. He told me that he knows he will find the answer somewhere. Honestly, Gallie I gave up. He’s just like his dad.”

“What did he say about us? Sometimes he makes me feel that we’re disposable. Steve do you know he hasn’t looked at me since before he left? I know it’s a bit odd telling you this but it’s true. He’s very sexual and even that seems to be gone. He refused sex with me every night this week. Do you know how that makes me feel? He says he loves me. I know that he still loves me but is that enough? Maybe he’s having an affair.”

“I don’t really want to hear about his sexual appetite. I’ve known him too long. And I don’t want the images in my head. One thing I know for sure, Goris would never betray you. He’s not the type.”

“And neither am I.”

“True. You’re not the type but then, is there really a type? Can you really look at someone and know they’re the type to have an affair? I reckon half the people we know are in the middle of some betrayal one way or another. You can never tell and it’s probably the least likely types who are the most likely.”

“Unfortunately you’re right. But I agree, Goris isn’t the type. I just can’t see him dealing with the guilt. I mean look at him. He has the guilt of the world on his shoulders these days.”

“Gallie, let’s be honest, we both know he didn’t deserve it but what’s ‘deserve’ got to do with anything. He made it fair and square. That’s the world we live in. He needs to get a grip or he’ll lose everything. I know him and I promise you that he could lose the money and he wouldn’t care but he couldn’t lose you. That would destroy him. And you know, he truly believes that he’s doing whatever he’s doing for you and Jazzy.”

“Ok but we don’t want him to do anything for us except be happy. He assumes that he knows what’s good for us. It’s so arrogant and unfair. How dare he tell me that I’ve lost sight of everything. And to say that he’s going to put it all in perspective. You know, I sometimes wish that he’d never been so successful. We’d have been better off with only a few million. We used to be happier before all this. He might be right that money is the root of all evil.”

“It’s the love of money actually. That’s the root of all evil. He’s got a point. Funny thing is that he’s the one out of all of us who loved the money. Since we were kids, that’s what he always talked about. He always wanted money, but I mean big money. He wanted to be a Donald Trump and then he got what he wanted. I think that he’s just not used to being so rich and it takes getting used to. He’s only 31. When you’ve got everything at such a young age, where do you go? The rest of us keep going because we need more or at least still want. He doesn’t need a thing. And he’s got you.”

“Stop it Steve. I don’t know if we can survive his conscience. I can’t hear him ranting on and on about the inequalities and the poverty and the goddamn billionaires, like they’re evil. You know, he really thinks that they’re evil and they should all be eliminated – his words not mine. Maybe you can talk to him again. He has to make a choice, that’s all. It’s about choice. He has to choose what to do with his life and ours. He’s playing with our lives and he doesn’t see it. There aren’t many options as I see it. He’s not going to play golf for 50 years and get fat. Let’s face it, he’s only really got two choices, it’s charity work or business. I prefer business. It won’t confuse him. Please Steve, for me, see what you can do. He can’t do nothing. That’s not a choice. We got into a discussion last night about his trip. He told me how he couldn’t stay in hotels any more. He said the hotels made him sick. He said the poverty was everywhere and that’s’ what you don’t get on tv, just how widespread it is. He was explaining to me how life was about survival for most people not choice. I listened for hours and we talked about how unfair it all was and I agreed with him but he wants to change things. For a while I really felt that he was listening to me until, Christ Steve, you should have seen him when I told him that he had the chance now to ‘give back’. It was as if I’d insulted his father. He absolutely lost it. He said he didn’t ever want to hear those words. They weren’t real words, that they were false declarations made by the rich for the media, publicity for their bullshit foundations. I walked out. He didn’t give a damn. He screamed at me that I had lost my humility and that he’d found his. He should go South and start preaching.”

“I know. I know Gallie, I also got it from him. I’ll try to talk to him again. I’ve got an idea, a business idea and I am going to ask him to invest but I’m also going to ask him to get involved. He’s good and I could use him. He might even like it, it’s an interesting concept.”

“What is it? I’m not really interested.”

“I know. Well, it’s about collecting information on rich people in order to be able to monitor movements in share transactions. A lot of wealthy people and funds try to hide their transactions. We have developed a programme that analyses movements in shares. I can see you’re really interested. Anyway I’m sure Goris will like it. Collecting info on the rich might appeal to him these days.”

“Sounds great. You know I was thinking that if he doesn’t do the charities then maybe I will. I’m becoming one of the Beverley Hill’s Wives and I don’t like it. Soon my lips will be fat and twisted as a pig and my skin wrapped so tight that I’ll look like one of them.”

“You’d still be attractive.”

“You do realise that that’s your best friend’s wife you’re talking about? I came here to talk to you about Goris. There’s no point flirting with me. I’m not the type.”

“And neither am I. Anyway I wasn’t flirting, I was stating a fact. You are an attractive woman, despite your age.”

“Shut up Steve. Anyway, I’d call that flirting. I don’t flirt with you.”

“You don’t need to. You know what I think.”

“Well, I’m happily married as I keep telling you and I’d never leave Goris. I love him. He may be crazy at the moment but I still love him. I’d never betray him, never. You need to understand that Steve. Are you listening? Anyway you’re happily married.”

“Yes I am but you know how I feel about you. I always have and I love Goris. I just wish.”

“Don’t Steve. There’s no point. Goris and I may be going through something now but it’s nothing really. He will never leave me and I’ll never leave him.”

“Gallie do we have to talk about Steve? I didn’t come here to talk about your husband.”

“I did.”

“I came here to make love to you. Come on, we don’t have long.”

I turned the light off. I couldn’t face what I was doing. We were naked under the satin sheets and Steve lifted himself onto me. He kissed me tenderly, gently running his hands over my thighs and then raised himself to kiss and suck my breasts. I opened my legs and he entered me and in a few minutes it was over and we were lying side by side as if nothing had happened. I regretted it as I had done every single time for months but something always drew me back to him. Once we had cleaned up with the statutory clinical precision of the rich, we left. I wasn’t sure why I continued to see Steve. I wasn’t attracted to him. I didn’t particularly like him. I just happened to have dirt on my shoulder and he happened to brush it off.

Goris was at home in his office doing something. Jazzy was in her room watching tv. Valentina was cooking our evening meal. I walked in unnoticed as always, shouted out, heard nothing back and so I went to the kitchen where at least Valentina would notice me. She turned and smiled and then she carried on mixing whatever she was cooking us. I went into Goris’s office.

“Goris what have you been doing?”

“Where have you been? With your boyfriend?”

“Yes thanks for asking.”

“I want you to listen to something for a second Gallie. You know how hard this has all been on me, us, well I might have found something that changes everything. I’ve been reading a Jewish book called the Talmud. I’d never heard of it, it’s incredible. It’s a set of rules and teachings about life and the philosophy of life. I was reading about it and I read something really amazing. Gallie think about it, ‘whoever saves one life saves the entire world’. Oskar Schindler, remember the film? He saved all those Jews in the war? We saw the film with the English guy you like, Randolph something. Anyway, when he talked about saving the Jews, that’s what he said. It made me think about things. Even if I can’t change the world, I realize that changing one real thing is changing the world. I really think that I can make a difference. Anyway what have you been doing?”

“I told you, shopping.”

“Do you know what else I read, that the richest 1500 people in the world are worth more than the combined wealth of half the world’s population?”

“Oh my god Goris, don’t start. You’re like a religious fanatic. No different from all those types you hate. Al Qaida are also trying to wrong the rights. You’ve got the same cause. Why don’t you join them? Grow a beard, become Muslim, live in a cave, carry a gun and you can be one of them. “

“I like it. At least I wouldn’t have to go to any more dinner parties and charity functions. Great food, exotic location. I’d rather hang out with them than most of the people we know. Maybe I will join them. I know one thing and that is that I don’t want this, what we have, what we are. It’s all wrong.”

“You know how that hurts Goris. Why are we not enough for you? You know what Goris, fuck you and fuck your cause. Go back to Thailand, screw a few young girls there. Maybe that’ll make you feel better. I’ve had just about enough. You’re tearing us apart. You have to find something else to occupy yourself for your own sanity and for all of us. You can’t sit and obsess over stuff on the internet. There’s no point. If you feel that strongly about the world then make a difference, try to do something. You said that you might have found a way. I can help. We can do it together.”

“Gallie I’ve decided what I’m going to do. I’m going to travel more and use my money to change things. I want to go away again.”

“You know what Goris, I’ve reached the point where I think I’d be happy if you went for a while. I can’t deal with your crap any longer. Feeling sorry for yourself because you’re so rich, we’re so rich! It’s a joke and so are you. So if that’s what you want Goris, I won’t stop you.”

“I’ll come back every few weeks to see you. Jazzy will understand. I’ve already spoken to her.”

“You’ve spoken to her, before you talked to me? You had no right.”

“I’m sorry it just happened. Anyway I told her it won’t be forever and it won’t but I need to do this, for me, for us. I need to go. I keep asking myself why did I get all this money? I never deserved it. It can’t all be for you and me. Funny thing is that I didn’t think about god before all this but now I do. I keep asking myself how god can exist if he gave me this money. And then I think about the few thousand people who have it all while the rest have nothing and what do they do, they all keep it. Where the fuck is God? But then I think about the Holocaust. Do you know that when the Jews were being forced into the gas chamber, they didn’t abandon God - instead they prayed to him? If I was going to die like that, I wouldn’t pray to God, I’d want to know why, I’d hate him but they didn’t, they still loved him, still worshipped him. It was God’s will. It makes you think that maybe everything is pre-ordained.”

“Well then maybe it’s God’s will that you made all that money.”

“No. That’s what I realised. It was God’s will to make me do something with the money. It was a test. That’s why he filled my head with all this. Gallie, this is God talking to me. I know it. I know it. I always knew that I was destined for more but I thought that it was to be rich. I always wanted to believe in God and now I do. I was wrong, so wrong. I am going to go away for a while and I am going to save a life.”

“You know what I think? I think you’re actually depressed. I think that you worked under pressure for too long and the stress is coming out now. Maybe you should talk to someone. It’s frightening listening to you. God talking to you - do you know how you sound? “

“It’s not like that Gallie. I’m not hearing voices. For God’s sake. Ha! Ha! I just have this overwhelming feeling that I can do something good.”

“I’m sure you can but why do you have to go away?

“Because I don’t want to take the risk of being sucked into this life.”

“Stop saying ‘this life’. It’s insulting and hurtful. I, we, are ‘this life’.”

“Please baby, I don’t ever mean to hurt you and Jazzy. You are everything to me and you always will be. I want you to be proud of me, really proud and not because I made money. One day, I promise you, you’ll know that I did this for you. This is not me going through some pathetic, self-indulgent male, mid-life crisis. I promise I won’t buy a motorcycle and join the gym. I love you babe.”

“I haven’t heard you say you love me for so long. I love you too. Okay if you really feel you have to do this then I won’t stop you. I don’t want you to go, you do know. You promise, you’ll come back.”

“Yes I promise.”

“Where are you going dad?”

“Sorry Jazzy, I didn’t see you there. Your mother and I have agreed that I am going to go away just for a while.”

“He’s off to change the world sweetie.”

“Oh have a great time. Don’t worry about us, I’ll look after mummy. Is it a holiday? Can we come?”

“Jazzy, it’s what we talked about yesterday, remember. About all the people with no money and starving children. You remember?”

“Yes but I don’t believe you. Mummy said that it’s not true. And I’ve never seen anyone like that and there are black children in school and they’re not starving.”

“Well it is true and I want to go and help if I can. It’s not a holiday, it’s work. I will call as much as I can, I promise.”

“I don’t want you to go. You just came back. It’s not fair. Why can’t we go with?”

“It’s really not for children darling. I want to show you something and then maybe you won’t mind daddy going to help.”

“No Goris, you’re not showing her anything. What the hell is wrong with you? Do you really think it’s appropriate to show her dying children? Jesus Goris you’re not thinking straight.”

“Actually I am and I think that she should see these things, absolutely. I don’t want her to grow up in this bubble. You know what? I actually wish that we had no fucking money. Can’t you see, we are bringing up our daughter in a world that’s not real? For fuck’s sake Gallie, look at her. She goes to a fifty thousand dollar a year school full of rich kids. She lives in a multi-million dollar house. She has every goddamn thing she wants. She gets chauffeur driven to school, maids cleaning up after her, cooks cooking for her. What are we teaching her? Nothing. We are teaching her nothing except how to expect money and a plastic lifestyle. She’s going to grow up in a cosmetic world. We are grooming her to become a California housewife married to an equivalent guy, having cosmetic surgery and ending up looking like a cosmetic freak. She will have cosmetic compassion, cosmetic holidays in 5 star hotels and cosmetic children. And I don’t want that. She deserves better and so do we.”

“Goris for god’s sake, she’s only ten. What the hell is wrong with you? Have you lost all sense? It’s alright darling, Daddy didn’t mean to frighten you. Jazzy look at me. Daddy’s not feeling well. He didn’t mean to upset you, did he Goris? He’s just a bit unhappy at the moment and we think that if he goes away for a while then he will come back much better.”

“Are you getting divorced?”

“No sweetheart we are not. I’m sorry Jazzy. I’ve got a lot on my mind. I love you and mummy and we are never getting divorced. It’s just that I need a break. Remember how you never saw me when I was working? It was too much and now I need some time for me. It’s not a holiday. I’m going to places that you wouldn’t like. Come on sweetie, come give me a hug.”

I couldn’t let the tears show so I kept them under control. I knew that he’d be back. I knew that he loved us but I couldn’t remove the thought that we weren’t enough to make him happy. Then he left with an excitement that was insulting. It was a relief for us both that his presence could no longer be felt in the house but unsettling because we both loved him and he had simply vanished. We had no clue where he was, nor when he would return. In the following months, Goris called from time to time telling us about some remote place he was staying in or some person he had met or some giant fish he had caught. He told us that he loved us and missed us between his ranting’s of the injustice of poverty. We didn’t bother telling him that he was selfish and irresponsible. Instead I continued to fuck his best friend and spend his money.

I knew that Gallie was angry with me. I had done my utmost. God had spoken to me for the first time in my life. I assured her that I hadn’t seen God in a vision or heard voices of God in my head. I wasn’t running up and down the High street with a machete. I wasn’t Jesus Christ returned living above a burger bar. I was just a normal guy trying to find a reason. Whatever God was, I hadn’t suddenly ‘found’ him. I simply felt that there was a reason, possibly divine why I had this money. My conscience would not allow me to accept that such undeserved wealth, such obscene excess could have been given to me for no reason. I wanted to believe that I had been chosen by something greater than me and God was a convenient donor. When I sat alone, sipping a hot brew, leaning against a tree somewhere remote, abandoned by God with my eyes closed, I knew that this was bullshit. Wealth was random and for those driven by greed and only after the event I had the privilege of being able to have a crisis of conscience. I was a thirty something man with too much and not enough, going through a pathetic mid-life event at the expense of my family. But then I’d sip the dregs and come out of my thoughts, get up and carry on.

I saw what I needed to see wandering from province to province and country to country. I felt increasingly rich no matter what I did to feel equal. I could not deny the desire to eat on clean plates and shower in luxury but I convinced myself that living frugally beside such poverty gave me the right to have compassion. I did not want to take rich man’s compassion for the poor and loudly package it into a charity. I didn’t just want to be another Grey or Zelig preening themselves in their media circus, with tax efficient promises of a ‘fairer world and eradicating poverty’. I did not want to sit on high profile committees and charitable foundations promising everything, delivering little, raising my profile and all the time behind the scenes, getting richer and richer. I wanted to do something quietly, something real, truly anonymously. I knew and they knew that this wealth wasn’t theirs by any human right.

I wanted to create a voice. I had the means but did I have the right? I struggled with this for months walked and talked across countries and continents, raising the question of inequality again and again. Everywhere I went I was treated with love and respect, spoken to as The Ambassador for all wrongs. I listened to tribal elders in the Amazon who looked to me to help them stop the destruction of their forest, villagers in Somalia who had to walk miles for water, crying mother’s holding their children dying of hunger in Ethiopia and Malawi. I sat with frustrated aid workers and nurses, ill-equipped and understaffed to look after the abused children, injured children, maimed children, war children, orphaned children, disabled children, mentally ill children and the children with Aids and Measles and TB and Malaria. I saw the aftermath of war and drought and famine and flood. I saw the ineffectiveness of charity and donation but more than all of this, I saw the unimaginable scale of it all and the hopelessness in the faces of the millions and millions and millions.

It seemed that natural beauty and poverty were never far apart. A short distance from disease and squalor, The Congo River, the deepest in the world, 3000 miles of water flowing through The Congo Basin larger than Europe, crashing down falls and rapids, breathing life into man and child along the way and giving me the chance to fish for The Goliath Tiger Fish, The Mbenga. At 4am I was awoken and as I emerged from the tent, a fire was raging and coffee brewing. The rainforest wrapped itself around us with all the life contained therein, the noises, the insects, the smell, the humidity. Its sheer size and beauty in the dawn light overwhelming senses and filling you with sheer wonder. How could such abundant life shield such rampant death? I had no speech, no thought, no conscience, no feeling. I lay in the arms of the rain forest in pure and total submission. I sipped the coffee.

Lionel, my guide and his son Junior were smiling and laughing at me. Perhaps they understood that they had everything and I had nothing. They had prepared the tackle and after a quick coffee we walked by torchlight to the river bank. The dugout was waiting for us and carefully we clambered into the boat careful not to change its fragile balance. I anticipated fly fishing, so elegant and skilful, something that I had been doing since a child always brought memories of my father flooding back to me, sitting in a boat with him, both fly fishing and he never catching and then his afternoon nap lying on the bottom of the boat, his awful casting but constant laughter and gentle competition. I wished that my father was here beside me but it could never be and so I forced the door shut and fished. They gave me an old rod and reel, conventional method not fly. I was disappointed but they explained that the Mbenga were truly giant with rumours of 200 pound fish, whispers of attacks on people and crocodiles. Goliath Tiger Fish like fast water, surface hunters waiting to attack fish struggling in the rapids and eddies. Junior was trying to catch Kamba fish with a line that he skilfully cast by hand and as all fisherman know, local knowledge is everything and he caught one then another until there were several in a bucket. Lionel showed me how to put the live bait on the hook. The sun was rising over the canopy releasing its heat and humidity as it did relentlessly day after day. We fished from the boat, drifting slowly in the calm water but close to the faster flow. I cast perfectly, a few feet from the opposite bank on the edge of a swirling eddy on its way to the falls not far from us, my bait diving as deep as it waning strength would allow and then it took the bait, an almighty take followed by a strike under instruction from Lionel and suddenly I was in the fight of my life. The Tiger coming full speed toward the boat and I reeling as fast as I was able to ensure that there was no slack, not for a single second or the fish would spit out the hook and just when I thought that the fight was over because we saw the fish rise and thrash about close to the boat, it dived into a deep pool taking line with it at incredible speed. I held tight on to the rod, releasing the line under tension to tire it out but this was a big fish, a monster and it had no intention of giving in and so the battle raged, allowing me to bring it close to show off its stunning body and perfect teeth and then diving down again and again and after an hour, we were both ready to give in to the other, exhausted and then suddenly it was on the surface half dead and we pulled to the side of the canoe. It was too big to lift and I sat back, sweat easing, heart rate slowing admiring the awesome beauty of the top predator in this river and then we let it go and it dived deep into a hole to rest.

I woke up and dressed. The memory of the day before had been stored for life but for now it had been put away and I continued walking under the blazing sun. One such day I sat with a man called John in Angola and I listened. He explained in near-fluent English how the corruption in Africa had denied most people all basic human rights and he explained how nothing would change as long as corruption was accepted by the leaders of the world. He told me that he was born in Namibia. He talked of inequalities. He told me that the president was the richest man in Angola and his child, the first billionaire woman in Africa. It was never more obvious that corruption was directly proportional to poverty. I told him that I was ashamed. I told him that I wanted to help. I told him that one man can do nothing. But then the words of the Talmud came to me again. If you save one man, you save the entire world. I asked him what I could do and he replied ‘just listen’ because there is nothing you can do. An accumulation of months of swirling thoughts and confusion synthesised finally into a conclusion. That was the consummation of DRI. I told him that he had saved the world and he looked at me and he believed me.

“Gallie how are you darling? I just wanted to hear your voice.”

“Where are you? Oh my god, what are you doing there? It’s dangerous. We miss you. When are you coming back? Yea everything’s fine. Jazzy’s good. She misses you a lot. Are you ready to come back?”

“Not yet babe. I promise I’m close. I don’t know exactly. I can’t say when. Yes I feel much better, much happier. I’ve come to terms with things. I’m not sure I’m ready to face your friends or mine. How are Steve and Katrina? Any news? Well, tell him we’ll talk when I get back and tell him not to worry about the money. I’ve got to go. I am about to take a bus. Hey I Love you. Talk soon. Bye. Bye.”

I sipped black coffee that wasn’t coffee and sat on a chair that wasn’t a chair in an internet café in downtown Lima. I registered a web name, paid for by cash given to a black Peruvian to use his credit card. It was registered to John Angola at . I emailed a web design company in India, attaching an extensive file that contained every detail of the design and functions of the site that I had obsessively worked on for the last few days. I had sat in my dirty room for six days and six nights. I had cut a hole in the side of my head and removed a box filled and overflowing with months of twisted and knotted thoughts and day and night I unravelled them into a recognisable shape. I had agreed to pay them in advance so I found a young Peruvian man and gave him an envelope with cash and paid him to go to the Post Office and transfer the money to the account details inside the envelope. I waited outside and when he gave me the receipt, I gave him payment as negotiated and agreed.

India and I communicated almost daily by email from café to café and country to country, formulating and editing and re-formulating and re-editing. I would sit in internet cafes talking online to my men in India, encouraging them to employ anyone they felt could assist, sending more and more money, debating the design with Ahmed and Bob and the content with Professor Saxsena and a lawyer named Dilip and eventually they presented me with a working, forums tested and operational in 38 languages. I threw money in every direction, using my knowledge of the web to push e-DRI into the front line. I had no idea what I had launched or any idea what I would do but months of building the shop and interior design and it was open. The shopkeeper sat in his shop in the middle of nowhere, nothing on the shelves and no customers, smiling and waiting.

I flew from continent to continent, walked in jungles, rode camels in deserts, trekked through forests, towns and villages, took buses and trains, ate on the streets, in houses and I swam and fished and the overwhelming beauty of it all trying to negate the vile horror of poverty and war and disease in every corner, in all directions, in any language, every size, shape, age and colour with no hope of salvation and no sight of change but above all, no barriers except wealth. Money was the vaccine and it was only available to the very few. Whenever there was opportunity, I took it, spreading the word, of e-DRI.

The internet had sprung up worldwide in every nook and cranny and where I could open a computer and log on to the web, I introduced my child to anyone who would listen. It seemed that the students were willing to follow Goris of LA.

I felt I had saved a life and I was ready to go home. I opened the door of the house and the smell of cleanliness and luxury slapped me across the face and woke me from my hypnotic obsession. I was back and nothing had changed. The familiarity felt good. I called out. I walked through the ground floor of the house and there they were, mother and daughter, each laid out on a sun lounger, sunglasses, drink beside, book on the floor, headphones in, swimming pool glittering, both oblivious. I walked out and my little girl jumped up and ran into my arms. Gallie followed. I was home and I loved it.

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