>THE GONE, PART TWO

>Simon’s father parked the car in a small allotment that looked out over the dam, behind a low wooden barrier. The wood had been treated with chemicals, Simon noticed, so it looked like someone had coloured it in with yellow highlighter. A path led from the car park down towards the shore, threading through large white boulders. Simon’s father cut the ignition, and they sat in silence for some moments, while the engine ticked like a clock, winding down.

“Well,” said Simon’s mother. “This is lovely.”

“It is,” said Simon’s father, flipping the sun visor out so it sat flat against the windscreen. “Shall we get out and have a quick look?”

“Maybe we could bring the camera,” suggested Simon’s mother.

“Look great, wouldn’t it,” said Simon’s father. “We could have some blown up for a calendar.”

They opened their doors and hopped out. Simon stayed where he was, seatbelt firmly across his waist. His mother went to the boot to get the camera from her bag. She must have noticed the back of his head. The way he held it so deliberately still. Simon’s father was already halfway to the water’s edge, beckoning his wife to follow him. He must have thought of his son, absent, in the car.

Simon leant his head back and closed his eyes. The image of his parents—walking away, hand in hand, soft sunlight across their shoulders—began to vanish.

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