‘Wash your hands before you do that, Sophie.’

The words grate against me badly, and I’m ten years old again. I keep my temper in check because this is just a visit.

I take a coffee cup down from the shelf and set it next to the kettle. Her brows dart up — frightened sparrows against a pale sky.

‘Sophie. . .’

‘I’m just making myself a coffee, mum. My hands are clean. Do you want a cuppa?’

This is a thin attempt at re-shifting her focus, but she’s defensive now, angry. There’s a short burst of recriminatory words and I find myself in the bathroom, washing my hands and trying to banish old feelings that have risen to the surface.

Hamish, the Scottish terrier, follows me and tries to get into the bathtub. Apparently he has a thing for dripping taps; he’ll sit in the tub and lick the spout for hours if you let him. The bathroom door must always be shut and there’s a folded tea towel wrapped around the tap in the garden.

My dad assures me he’s wonderfully well-adjusted besides this one quirk.

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