"What about Fin though?"
She acknowledged that this was a problem.
They'd had an argument the night before. She thought he wasn't there enough for the boys. He thought the boys wouldn't have anything to eat if it weren't for him. The boys - Et and Ley - and I sat aside in the bedroom while they argued. "They want Ley to get married," Et told me, "but he doesn't even get to go out and work, so I dunno what he'd do with a woman."
Ley said, "It's only Cowie. Since when does Fin care? He'd take me to work if he could."
"We'll never agree," sighed Cowie as we lazed in the corner furthest from the dog. "Fin's such a linear, practical view of the world. Work, marry, children. I want them to grow up in an exciting world!"
"It seems pretty exciting to me," I said wryly.
"But Fin doesn't see it that way! This is my point. His world is just there to be dealt with. He sees a difficulty, he deals with it. Ack, this is not like him." She climbed onto the sacks - not clambering, although she should’ve been. She just climbed right up no problems, peered over. "He sees a difficulty, he should turn up. We're gonna miss the evac, is what. Oi, boys."
Ley put aside the wind-up clock he'd been playing with. "We going?"
"No sign o’ Fin yet."
"We've only been here seven minutes, sheh!"
Minutes don’t mean much here, and I’d never heard any of them asking the time before. Cowie sat next to me again, wrinkling her nose as she moved aside a bit of soggy newspaper. "I want them to experience everything. To enjoy it. To absorb it. To see it through different eyes every day!"
I wasn't sure what to think of this, because Cowie didn’t have a job, and given that attitude in this place, if it weren't for Fin she probably wouldn't have anything to eat either.
Ley and Et started to hit one another. Nothing major – Cowie just ignored it. “Their names are short for Finley and Finnet. I was hoping they’d look just like him.”
“Well, that’s not so exciting, you’ve already got Fin,” I pointed out. “Didn’t you want your boys to be something different?”
Cowie didn’t answer this. “How long’s it been?”
“Eight minutes. We really have to wait in here?”
“No, I want you boys to go down to the ‘port. Me’n Fin will come when he gets back.”
Ley puts his clock in his pocket. “Ya sure?”
I know just as well as Cowie does that they won’t go down to the ‘port. They’ll go uptown where Fin works – it’s a couple of kilometres from here – and try to find him.
“No...you boys stay here and I’m’na look for Fin. You can come if you like,” she added to me. “But, Cowie,” protests Et. “What if neither of you’n Fin come back?”
“Well...you got that clock. Give it...uh...an hour. Give it an hour, ‘n if neither of us back you should go for the evac.”
I didn't know how far away the 'port was, but Cowie didn't know what an hour was. In our mutual ignorance, we left the boys behind and climbed – well, she climbed and I clambered – out of the alley. The city was dead quiet, apart from occasional yells where someone was still home. We had to duck out of the way a couple times to make sure we weren’t spotted. “I wonder if Fin’s gone to the port without us.”
“Leave the boys behind?”
“He’d take them to work if he could!”
I shut up then, because it was cold and she was upset. We went along like that for a while. And that’s how I ended up being with Cowie when she got to where Fin worked and found all of his stuff, scattered around. All the furniture upside-down. “They must’ve come through here already...”
“Hey Cowie, we’d better head back to the boys,” I say, grabbing her arm. I don’t know what it means, and here I was thinking the walls were holding during the evac, but Cowie’s shaking and sits down on the underside of the upside-down table, staring around like she can’t see anything. I’ve never been here, but I recognise Fin’s favourite pin-cushion with the stuffing coming out. “He’s got it too...my Fin!”