Clara sees them from the top of Back Lane, five silhouettes through the gloom under the railway bridge against the sun glare, almost see through like angels, then the orange of Mrs Osman’s scarf, the turquoise and red of the children’s tops, Xoriyo, Muxsin, Jamal, finally Mr Osman’s bright wide smile.
She had offered to meet them at Angel Lodge but knows why he insisted on meeting here. Mr Osman does not know that she has been inside their temporary accommodation, tucked under the prison wall, seen the rooms. All cooped up. Angels. Pigeons.
She thinks: It’s me who should be embarrassed, not them, embarrassed their gateway to my new home town, their new country is under this dank dripping bridge stinky with man piss and pigeon shit, dead birds on spikes, trapped by the nets, all slowly rotting.
She decides to take them up to Create Cafe, and as they walk towards her finds herself doing that new thing she does now, a quick calculation of cost.