I am sitting in a cafe, looking out across the street. Cold wind in the morning sun. From the fast food restaurant beside me a young woman and her children emerge on to the footpath.
‘You fucking get here. Stop that mucking around.’ The mother hits her daughter hard across the back.
The daughter skips away, then turns and screams to her younger sister and brother back in the restaurant. ‘Come ON. Get here now. ‘ The younger sister comes out, and in turn, screams at the boy. The boy is perhaps two years old, and cannot walk so fast. He is carrying his shoes and a small plastic horse.
The mother has already crossed the road, pushing the pram with a furious anger, the daughters skipping behind her. The son trails, hop-footing on the cold pavement. On the other side of the road, the mother turns again. ‘Fucking get in the pram.’
With care, the little boy moves around to the front of the pram, but as he climbs up, the mother jerks the pram in impatience, and he drops the shoes. The mother pauses, and throws her head back, and then, with a sudden, snake like intensity, strikes the boy across the leg. She seizes him, pushes him down into the pram and grabs up his shoes, moves quickly after her daughters.