It’s clap the carers time. Time to get to know the neighbours again, from our doorsteps.

I go out to the front of the house. The man from two doors down is smoking in his dressing gown so I shout hello. A boy in big flip-flops pads along the sidewalk, turns to look. I wave. He looks surprised. Perhaps by how loud I am clapping. His mum calls and he turns and flip flops back.

There is no sign of next door’s cat tonight. A pigeon swoops across the street. I’m sure they didn’t use to fly that low. I can’t see anyone else from here, but I can hear them. A taxi beeps, and somewhere, fireworks.

I don’t want the clapping to end but it does. Silence. The latch clicks. Inside it’s warm. On TV, people are still clapping. It’s going to be a long night.




Also by Ruth,