• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 12
Image by

120 metres, higher

The drone soars, and then there is blue and blue.

I’m spotter, so my gaze follows that tiny dot – black beetle, grain of dirt – as it ascends, the spot ascending. Too far away now to hear its unlark-like sound. There’s a chime from the control screen as it reaches 120 metres, a warning bell that it is going up beyond the legal height. On the screen there is Snowdon, there is the ridiculousness of the Village, the towers and gelato coloured buildings, shrunk now into models of themselves. Like the model we have at home on the mantel, the house within our house.

‘I can barely see the drone,’ I tell him. ‘You’ll have to bring it lower or closer.’

He does. With his mother not his mates, he will do these things. The gnat dot grows, just a little.

‘Where is it?’ he asks.

I point with my finger.

‘I’m going to fly it up the estuary. Over the sand.’

A short distance in comparison to the places the drone has been. Bought from Hong Kong, made in China, it travelled round the world to reach us. Parcel tracking told us how it changed flights in Amsterdam, and I remember us doing that on the way home from Venice, thinking there was lots of time and then having to sprint through Schiphol, almost missing the connection. Then the drone was found to be faulty, made its way back via another courier, ages in East Midlands Airport, then Hong Kong. Back to China for repair, back to Hong Kong for checking, back to us to be flown again.


120 metres, higher

And now here, in the strangest place in Wales. I am still watching it, not a bird, not a plane. My son is bringing it in to land, edging it on to the terrace. It’s clever and can’t get too close to walls, people, anything solid, but even so this is a tricky manoeuvre. My son is all silent concentration. And then there’s a breeze on my cheek and slowly the tiny mechanical insect makes its way back to the safety of the ground. As sudden and welcome as the day my boy came back from his gap year, from China and Hong Kong, bringing digital memories home.