When Liam walked in the front door that evening, he hoped Ellie wouldn’t talk too much about the lack of a postcard, feeling (as she had believed) disappointed and saddened. So, when he entered the kitchen and saw the newest addition to the notice board, he too allowed his instinctive smile to flourish, snatching the card down and hurrying into the living room when he was headed off by Ellie, who told him about how it had arrived. They both exchanged a knowing look; Helen had a wicked sense of humour, and despite the constant retelling of the same two or three stories (affectionately laughed at and cherished by Ellie and Liam), was as sharp and perceptive as she had been in her youth. Could it be that she had picked up on their findings in regards to the pattern of the postcards and pulled an incredible sleight of hand to keep them on their toes? They could both imagine her infectious, mischievous laugh, sounding out across the heaven she was surely in, and both had a laugh themselves when, after sharing the joint thought out loud, Ellie said that Helen would be telling her new friends this story for an infinite lifetime to come.
As if copying their parents’ laughter, the sound of Rohan gargling happily and Declan and Ciaran’s giggles (especially Declan’s particularly impressive dirty laugh) floated out of the living room. Knowing that laughter of that raucous nature normally signalled that some semblance of misbehaviour was afoot, Ellie and Liam went quickly through the baby gate into the living room to see just what the boys were up to, sure that it had something to do with the removal of chocolates from the Christmas tree. But no, both were simply sat, side by side, on the floor in front of the sofa, their faces pointed towards the back of the seats, their sister pottering around behind them in her walker. Nothing there, so they assumed the boys had been mimicking them laughing; after all, they were going through the stage of picking up on everything that they heard. Happy with the show of good behaviour in the living room, Ellie and Liam set about preparing the evening routine. Ellie and Liam were looking forward to their together time after the boys went to bed even more than usual on this night; they were both so desperate to have a proper discussion about the recent events. And so it was, with two very exhausted boys left rubbing their eyes in their room, that Ellie and Liam went downstairs and, with Rohan naturally nestled between them, cuddled up beside one another on the sofa to have that longed for talk. Before either could open their mouths, they heard the sounds of their sons laughing again, as loudly as they had been earlier. Being a sign that one or both boys were probably up and about from their little beds, Ellie and Liam rose to their feet to go up and settle them. As they started to ascend the stairs, there came an unusual clicking sound and a slight rustling from behind the kitchen door. Liam carried on up the stairs to see to the boys, while Ellie went to see if the noise had been that of one of the cats shut in there. Instead of a cat, she found something on the floor at the foot of the fridge, next to the smiley face magnet that had been holding it up. She scooped it up off the floor and practically bounded up the stairs, where Liam had only just gone into the boys’ room and was in the process of telling them what almost good boys they were, for while they were both in Ciaran‘s bed rather than in their own separate beds, and although not asleep, they were both just sat in the bed, with the duvet up over their legs, behaving perfectly well, and laughing at seemingly nothing.
Liam turned to leave the room, but was stopped by Ellie, who handed him what she had found on the kitchen floor. He couldn’t help but smile, a huge smile like that on the face of his wife, as he pulled the door shut with their sons still laughing on the other side of it, Rohan clapping happily as he held her. He embraced Ellie tightly and then positioned on top of the bookshelf on the landing the thing that Ellie had just placed in his hand.
A photo of Declan and Ciaran, sat grinning at either side of a radiantly beaming Helen, herself sat with a clapping Rohan on her knee.