“If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
Connor screwed up his face. “Do I have to?”
“Yes. It’s important.”
“OK. If this isn’t nice what is. Better?”
“No, you didn’t say it like you meant it. You didn’t even say it properly.” Marie meant it and said it like she meant it.
Connor thumped his pint onto the wooden table, slopping froth down the side of the glass. “If this isn’t nice I don’t know what is.” He picked his drink up again, taking a big gulp, then another. He let out a throaty ‘ahhh’.
He put his glass down again, matching the bottom to the ring the froth had made on the table. Outside the beer garden, traffic on the man road was sparse and birds twittered in the lull. Leaves patted each other as branches and twigs danced in puffs of breeze. Patterns of shade and sun shimmered on the patio.
Connor stretched his arms wide and wriggled more comfortably in his seat, resting his feet up on the bench in front.
“Yeah, it is nice.”
Cold sweat beads rang down the pint glasses like raindrops and Connor linked one to the next in growing rivulets. He lifted the glass to his mouth, tasting the malty liquor with his tongue, swirling it round his cheeks. He laughed as a trickle escaped his lips and ran towards his chin, scooping it with his finger before it could splash onto his shirt.
A ladybird landed on the table and walked an inch or two before unfurling black wings and flying off once again. Connor watched it fly until he could no longer be sure what was bug and what was bush. Bees buzzed in and out of blossoms and fragranced air reached his nose in waves. He inhaled and held it in his lungs for a long time.
Connor reached for Marie’s hand and took it in his, stroking the freckled back with his fingertips. He interlaced his fingers with hers and carried on stroking with his thumb, eyes closed and head back, face upturned to the sun.
“If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is,” he said.