‘Where do you think you’re going?’ Alexi’s mother called as he barrelled down the stairs towards the back door. He skidded to a stop on the faded rug, cursing her bat-like hearing.
‘Just… out,’ he spun around to grin up at her.
It didn’t work — she remained frowning at him. For a heart-stopping moment, he wondered if he was losing his boyish charm, and had to fight the urge to check that his dimples were still attached.
‘I don’t think so, young man,’ she said, planting her arms at her hips. ‘Not on a school night.’
‘But mummmm,’ Alexi groaned, leaning his whole body into the protest. ‘Niko was going to lend me his textbook, so I can study for our test tomorrow!’
His mother snorted at that — a likely story.
‘What were you actually going to do?’
Alexi twirled his foot in the rug innocently, breaking eye contact.
‘We were going to go sledding in that old bath we found,’ he finally admitted, sheepishly.
‘Alexi!’ his mother scolded him. ‘What have I told you about lying?’
‘Um… don’t?’ he offered. She scowled at him.
‘Those things are dangerous,’ she stamped. ‘You need all sorts of bath tub conversions for safety in the Sydney area before they’re safe to use.’
‘Sorry, mum,’ Alexi slumped. ‘Wait, what?’
‘Tell me you at least attached runners to the bottom?’ she asked, exasperated. Off his blank expression, she shook her head.
‘Honestly,’ she sighed, ‘it’s a wonder your generation haven’t all been in a serious accident. How long did you think you’d get away with not making bathtub modifications for? Seniors had no issue back in our day — we sledded the entire winter without a single bruise!’
Alexi had the very sudden, very adult realisation that he had no idea who his mother was.
‘I guess I’ll just have to show you how it’s done,’ the old woman sighed, dusting the flour from her hands.
‘Really? Now?’ Alexi grinned.
‘God, no,’ his mother frowned. ‘It’s a school night.’