“I'm sure they're no dirtier than yours.” Mrs Hammond flashed him a terse smile which seemed less to do with genuine humour than with putting him at his ease.
He raised his eyes again, scanning the playground. There did seem to be less children. Had the bell gone while they dallied with this urchin? Lucy was still making her way toward him despite the reduced press of bodies and was that her mother at the school gate? “What are you doing here? I thought you had a meeting?”
It was like shouting into a gale, his words flung back at him. He could see Gillian mouthing something, but her words didn't reach him at all. “Har///Don'///”
“What?” He cupped a hand to his ear to display his lack of hearing. Gillian took a step toward him but two schoolchildren suddenly appeared, holding up notebooks and clamouring for her attention.
Mrs Hammond followed his gaze and her mouth hardened into a single line he recognised from his mother. It was the sort of face Ada reserved when the Scientology missionaries came back after being told 'no thank you, we made the mistake of reading the first book of Mission: Earth and only liked it because it lasted a month in the Lav. We certainly don't want the rest of his fiction in this house.”
“Mr. Waterman, will you please stop being so childish? Take the boy's hand and be done with it.”