A story by DAVID BENN

With both hands on the wheel of my Mazda Hatch, I watched a steady stream of black-and-red-uniformed pupils alight from steaming vehicles and saunter along the concrete footpath towards the school gates, where a group was already waiting for the bus that would take them to school camp.

My son, Harrison, readying himself to get out of the car and join them, leant over and kissed me on the cheek.

‘See you in a couple of weeks,’ he said.

‘It’s nice and warm here in the car. I can drop you at the gate.’ I tried not to raise my voice, so it would sound like a statement. Not a plea.

‘No, it’s okay. I want to see my friends before school.’ He turned and opened the door and cold dry air washed through the vehicle.

As I pulled on the hand brake and looked in the rear vison mirror, I saw the passenger door of the car behind us ease open.

‘I’ll get your bag out of the boot,’ I said.

Before Harrison had the chance to tell me not to worry, I’d swung open the door and hopped out.

He stared at me over the roof for a moment then shot a glance around him. ‘Can you hurry up?’

With a sigh, he dug into his pocket for his phone as I opened the hatch, which creaked and squealed as it lifted .

I was careful not to brush against the gleaming white paint of the car behind us. Its silver Mercedes logo sparkled on the front of the bonnet. A tall girl with a long blonde ponytail slid out of the passenger seat and heaved a black backpack over her shoulder. Her porcelain skin and blue eyes shone like her parent’s car, as she smiled at the impassive boy beside me.