By James Mason
Simon screwed up his nose against the puffs of solvent fumes. Keeping his hands steady, he dribbled glue from the metal nozzle onto the thin lip that ran the length of the model’s fuselage. You had to be careful with glue.
“It’s very strong,” he’d told Mummy. “It’ll stick to anything.”
He squinted at the tube, careful not to squeeze too hard and squirt out too big a dollop. It was particularly hard, as the tube was almost empty now.
He wanted everything to be spread evenly so that when he pressed the two pieces of grey plastic together there wouldn’t be any excess glue bubbles. That would cause lots of problems, and he didn’t want the model sticking to the newspaper he’d spread over the kitchen table.
He was building the Supermarine Walrus biplane. It had cost £30 and was the hardest model he’d ever built, even harder than the de Havilland. It had lots of small parts that needed to be snipped off the frame with nail scissors and those parts filed smooth using one of Mummy’s emery boards.
He pressed the two halves together and imagined the squish as the glued sections locked.
Simon could hear Ian stomping down the corridor. Ian slammed into the kitchen, still dressed in his pyjamas, even though it was past nine. He had his coffee cup pressed to his lips and was grumbling into it. Coffee had splashed down Ian’s face and stained his top. Simon tried to ignore him. Ian was always complaining.
Simon liked models because they needed patience. Being precise and careful made things fit together. When she’d first met Ian, Mummy had wanted the three of them to fit together. Since he and Mummy had moved in with Ian, Simon had noticed Ian was always impatient. Perhaps that was why things always seemed to get broken in Ian’s house. Like the de Havilland.
Mummy had sat on Simon’s bed that morning and squeezed his knee. He noticed how thin her hands were, poking out of her shirt sleeves like tortoise heads.
“I was doing the hoovering last night, and…”
Simon heard something wet and thick in her voice.
“I, well you see, I accidentally knocked your plane off the dresser. The big one, the de…whatsit…”
“Havilland,” Simon finished for her.
“And, you see, the thing is…” Her gaze fixed on the poster of a Supermarine Spitfire soaring upwards while a burning Messerschmitt 109 fell into a beetle blue sea. “I snapped one of the wings off.”
“I didn’t hear the hoover last night.”
“It was very late.”
“Is that why Ian was shouting?” Simon asked.
Mummy stared at him for a long time then said, “Come on. If you get up now you can work on your new model for an hour before Ian’s up and about.”
And that’s what Simon had done. He’d concentrated hard on the model, except for when he got distracted. It was just for a moment when Mummy put the tray holding Ian’s coffee cup on the table next to him. Simon told himself that he’d not meant to do it. Not really. It was an accident. After all, this glue would stick to anything.
Ian pulled hard at the cup and shrieked, his lip stretching where it was stuck. Simon could hear Mummy laughing from the doorway. He turned to look at her, glad that she was happy. Then he started laughing too.