Sandra Tate and Adam

It’s Sandra Tate from flat four who says the first words to the family when they arrive, and her son Adam who gets the first response.

“Lift’s out,” says Sandra as she barges through the fire door at the bottom of the staircase and sees the family standing patiently by the unresponsive lift doors.

“Are you five?” says Adam to the smallest member of the family, a girl who is the same height as him. She shakes her head but doesn’t tell him how wrong he is.

Adam’s hand is being dragged towards his football coaching session, which he has to leave early in order to reach his karate club, which he also has to leave early so that his mother can have the plaits restored in her hair. Adam notices the woman’s hair is tightly coiled.

“Have you got Cornrows?” he says.

The women smiles at Adam and lifts her two bulging bags. “Clothes,” she says.

Adam surrenders to the pressure on his arm and is pulled out through reinforced glass and metal front doors.

It is many days later when the girl points up Adam’s nose, which is squashed against the window.

Adam is watching the picnic while his mother changes into her going-out clothes. Adam will go to his Grandma’s where he already has pyjamas and two whole drawers of clothes at the bottom of his uncle’s wardrobe.

The girl waves and Adam waves back. Adam’s mum appears briefly at the window and Adam disappears.

Less than a minute later his nose emerges slowly from the back door of Elton Bank. Norman, the man from the top floor inexpertly throws a ball and is rewarded by a lucky ricochet that delivers it to the feet of the five-year-old Adam.

Adam picks up the ball and shakes his head in response to a question from the tall man. The man pats him on the head, encourages him with a smile and enters the building.

The man returns with Sandra, Adam’s mum, anxiously looking at her watch. She blinks in the sunlight and her eyes scan the scene playing a familiar game of where’s Adam.

Adam hurls Norman’s ball, with all his overdeveloped strength, up the slope to crash into the top fence. The shout emerging from his mother’s throat is smothered by his squeals of delight as the ball bounces down and incredibly, sticks in his outstretched hands. She glances down to her watch but is impeded from turning her wrist by the small glass of red wine Barry, from the second floor places in her hand. With a sigh she succumbs to the embrace an impractical fluffy picnic rug and within minutes unloads herself from a lifetime of pressure to succeed.