‘Are they allowed a sweet? I’ve got some travel sweets.’ The young girl in the seat across the aisle opened a tin of Simpkins.
‘They are allowed but I’m sure they don’t want one.’ Their mother said. The three boys, whose thick hair covered their ears, who were wearing cream coloured rugby shirts with mustard yellow stripes and red corduroy trousers, looked at the sweets, and then at their mother.
‘The red ones are raspberry and the green ones are green apple.’
‘You are kind, thank you.’ The woman said. ‘Boys, would you like to take a sweetie?’ The girl moved the tin closer. The smallest and most rambunctious boy, Caspian, took a sweet and put it in his mouth.
‘Say thank you.’ His mother said. The other boys followed their brother’s lead and took a sweet too.
‘Where are you off to?’ the girl asked.
‘My parents live in Stirling so we’re heading up for half term.’
‘Granny and Grandpa! Granny and Grandpa!’ Caspian started chanting. His mother held out an arm and he slid onto her lap and was quiet.
‘D’you do this journey a lot then?’
‘We’ve done it a few times now, yes. It gets easier every time. I’ve driven it a couple of times too.’
‘Long journey for them, isn’t it? Nice that they get a table on the train. I bet they get bored in the car.’
‘Yes, I suppose so. I think I prefer the car to be honest.’ The mother laughed musically. ‘We left Folkestone this morning at 10am. It’s been rather a long day!’
‘Aw.’ They girl looked at the children like they were kittens. ‘They’re so cute.’ The two older boys blinked at her and sucked their sweets. Caspian began fidgeting and his mother held his arms down to keep him still, until he wriggled free and climbed into his seat facing backwards.
‘Where are you of to?’ The boys’ mother asked the girl.
‘We’re going skiing. The four of us. Well us two,’ she gestured to the girl sitting next to her. Both girls were pasty and skinny with yellow teeth. ‘And our brother, and our other sister and our mum and her fella. But they are on a train that’s ahead of this one because they came from our house, a bit closer to the sea than Norwich, and so they got up well early, but we’ve been in London. So yeah, it’s been alright for us, really.’ The girl said. Her and her sister had been eating pink and blue chocolate, Nerds, toffee popcorn, Haribo laces, Millions and Red Vines continuously for the first three hours of the journey. One had also eaten a Krispy Kreme Donut and was working her way through a can of Dr Pepper.
‘I see.’ The mother said.
‘We basically love skiing, us two. Well, the lot of us do actually, don’t we Kat?’ Her sister was listening to music in her headphones and didn’t hear.
‘I tell you what,’ the girl leant into her bag and started to rummage. ‘Do they want these?’ She pulled out three unopened bags of rainbow pips. The boys gasped and looked at their mother. Caspian rolled off his seat and onto the floor.
‘No thank you.’ Their mother was quick to answer. She was wearing riding-style boots corduroy skirt. ‘Please mummy, please!’ The boys huffed and puffed at the desperate situation. They could almost smell the sweets. But they knew how it would end.
‘Honestly, it’s fine,’ the girl said. ‘These are just taking up room in the bag. We don’t even like them.’ Her sister glanced over at her before going back to her phone.
‘No thank you.’ Mummy said.
‘Honestly’ the girl said.
‘No, we don’t want them. Thank you.’ Mummy had become stern. The eldest boy sat back and stared out the window. Caspian kicked the the table from where he lay on the floor. The sisters looked at one another and shrugged. The quiet one swigged her can of Dr Pepper.
Originally published at odettebrady.com on February 17, 2016.