“I’m a warrior, not some variety of flower!”
Arthur likes trains. He is nearly eight now and he has been on a train plenty of times. He rams his scooter in underneath the table, keeping it close, without looking back at his mother to see if the seat he has chosen is all right and gets his tablet computer out of his back pack. His special back pack. The one with the anime figure on it who looks just like a fierce version of himself. The same watchful brown eyes and guarded expression. The same attitude. He keeps his hood up and glares at the screen, his face lit by a pale blue light as he swipes and destroys.
Lara has been helping her mum. She scrambles into the seat next to her big brother after making sure that her scooter has been put in the right place, in the luggage rack. There is always a right way to do things and usually she knows what it is. If she doesn’t she asks her mum or her teacher. Sometimes if they don’t know she even tells them what the right way to do something is. They are the judges at the final court of appeal. If her mum or her teacher says something is true it then it must be true. She has Hello Kittty ear muffs and pink spectacles. One of her eyes is covered over to correct a squint. This is OK. The doctor explained it all. She clutches her lip salve anxiously in case she needs it. Her three blue, heart shaped bows are safe in her hair and her three butterfly rings are lined up on her fingers. She is fine. She has no wifi on her tablet and Arthur won’t let her use his because he is busy destroying important things but she is fine.
Mother has finished organising the luggage and put the big pink bag with the things that they might need on the journey on the seat next to her. She will be glad when this is all over. She has long, straight brown hair and she is wearing an expensive camel coat and a headband with a flower in it. She flops down into the seat opposite her children and dabs anxiously at her iphone. She really needs to sort something out. At least the children are being good. Sometimes Arthur can be difficult and that isn’t good in front of other people.
Arthur’s legs are kicking out automatically as he plays. His mother leans over and puts her face next to his.
“Be careful. You kicked that lady.”
“Mummy! You made me lose one of my people!”
Arthur flashes a glance at the lady. She doesn’t look worried about it.
The two of them raise their eyebrows at each other. It is a conspiracy. They both know what mothers can be like.
“Mummy- I’m hungry!”
He doesn’t look up to see whether he has been heard. He doesn’t need to. His support system swings into action. A small packet of home made sandwiches, ham and cheese in brown bread, crusts on, cut into quarters, appears on the table in front of his sister.
Mother gets back to her phone. They will be leaving the train at the next stop and she needs to sort this out first.
Lara unwraps the sandwiches carefully. Arthur glances sideways and takes one for himself too quickly. This is rude. She is outraged. Quietly.
He stares her out. Lara pouts.
“Put it here!”
He makes big eyes at her and takes another sandwich. Very slowly he takes a tiny bite out of each of his sandwiches while looking straight at her. Lara glances at her mum and frowns, wondering if this is fair or not. She still has her share in front of her so it probably is, but it is still annoying and she moves her half of the sandwich away from him to make sure. Her mother passes two small apples across and she gives one to Arthur pointedly. Look. I am being fair.
Arthur shuts down his tablet and announces his next move.
“I’m going to make something.”
Nobody asks what and he isn’t bothered. He makes his own choices and he makes them for himself. He gets out a coin bag full of tiny pieces of bright green Lego and tips them out next to the sandwich crusts which are lined up in front of him. Steadily he builds and bites until the crusts are gone and the Lego is starting to form a rickety tower. His apple sits alongside it with just one tiny piece of peel grazed off. This can be used as evidence if Lara accuses him of not eating his fruit.
Mother glances up. They are almost at their stop- already! She gives a small sigh to brace herself.
“Nearly time to get off.”
She gathers her wits and heads towards the luggage rack followed by Lara who picks up the big bag and heaves it along the corridor.
Arthur shows no sign that he has heard but he puts his Lego back into his backpack and shrugs it over his shoulders. He pulls his scooter out and waits in the aisle, several people behind his mother and sister.
“Arthur! Are you there?”.
There is nothing he needs to say to that. Of course he is there. The anime figure glares out behind him from his pack, brandishing a sword, watching his back.