Every Friday morning around 11, a group of young mothers congregates at a coffee shop in Evans Head. Im sitting there sipping a latte after breakfast.
The poached eggs were nearly good.
I reckon poached eggs must be the bane of the breakfast cook. Mushrooms, sausages, baked beans even fried eggs do not pose the challenge to the brekkie chef that poached eggs do. These days I purposely ask for runny poached eggs, even though Im pretty sure that no-one orders them hard.
The mums appear one by one pushing prams laden with their precious cargo towel, swimsuit, sunscreen, energy drinks, diet biscuits, credit card wallet, make-up, Home & Garden... oh, and a baby. The modern pram is modelled on the all-terrain, V6 four-wheel-drive, which many of them drive.
These sports utility prams can mount gutters with their large diameter, pneumatic tyres; turn on a 10 cent coin with their single fully rotational front wheel; and plough through gravel and rocks with their independent suspension. And they have European styling which turns the heads of attractive young men. (And older ones with hard-ish poached egg stuck to their stubble.)
But these prams are big. Tables need to be removed from their path. Often an older child will run in front yelling Wide load!.
The prams are parked in a concentric circle around the tighter circle of chairs occupied by the mums who seem to favour cappuccinos except for one mum who pops a pill with her double-shot short black. Her pram has a built-in esky. Her sunnies never leave her face.
The babies lie back and play with the baubles hanging in front of their faces while the mums talk about hubby and the squash game. They laugh. (Usually when talking about hubby.)
Its a fine day in Evans. I come here when I need to think. The salt air clears my mind. The ocean points to greater possibilities.
I remember the pram I had for my son. It was one of those ones with the four little double wheels like shopping trolley wheels. If there was sand or even a fine layer of dust on the ground, the wheels would bog. An expansion joint in the footpath was a major obstacle, often snagging, then snapping, a front wheel. They didnt have a turning circle you had to buy one facing in the right direction.
(In fact, I often used shopping trolleys instead of the pram. They also make an excellent cot.)
One baby is looking at me and waving its foot. I smile back. It cries. The mother, squash-toned and catwalk groomed, looks at the child with a raised eyebrow and then briefly glares at me.
I turn back to my coffee.
The woman is now nursing the baby at breast while she talks gym. She has half turned her back to me. But the baby, nipple in mouth, is staring at me as he sucks. I sip my warm latte. He sucks his warm milk. I shut my eyes dreaming of the eggs that could have been. He slowly closes his eyes. Who knows of what he dreams.