"Hey Kai, come look at this." Mum shades her eyes, looking up into the gum tree that dominates our backyard. The glass door makes a strange sucking sound as I slide it open.
"Stanley came over this afternoon," I can't help making a suggestive 'Ooo' sound which prompts an over-exaggerated eye roll. "Don't be ridiculous." I share a smirk with my flamingo socks. "Anyway, do you hear that?"
"Coming from the old termite nest?" I focus my eyes on the precariously balanced brown blob. It's funny how sight encourages hearing. Last year Harry joined the choir in an attempt to "come out". During his first concert I realised that focusing my eyes on him caused his voice to diverge from the harmonised cacophony and reach my ears far more clearly. The sound that reveals its self from the termite's nest is not, however, the wavering notes of an unconfident baritone, but a strange rasping sound. It's some sort of bird.
"Stanley says it's a baby kookaburra. He sat here almost an hour waiting for the parent to arrive. Listen to the little guy, he hasn't learn't how to laugh yet." Smiling, I run her sentence over in my head, marvelling at its beautiful simplicity and truth.
"Imagine not being able to laugh." She lowers her eyes to meet mine.
"It's more common than you'd think. Your father was one who couldn't laugh." I can't help tensing. Deep breath. I relax into myself, folding back into my slightly hunched posture.
"A baby kookaburra who never learnt." Her head falls sideways and she screws up her face.
"No, everybody learns, but unlike the kookaburras we can forget, and we do." I watch her stare up at the nest. The leaves' shadows dance across her face. I notice the way her eyebrows crease together, she's thinking about work. I drop my eyes trying to remember the last time she laughed.
This is just a scene, carried on from my novel excerpt. I spent a lot of time with those characters and so they are back, who knows they might continue to resurface here and there.