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“You’ve always been faster than us though”

“That was when we were younger; age, eventually, catches up”

James was bemused by Thomas’s words. His older brother was always the one he had looked up to and despite their age gap of 10 years, the one he had felt closest too.

“So are you saying I could beat you in a race then?”

“I never said that, I thought when you meant ‘us’ you were referring to everyone. Course I can still beat you, it’s your sister I’m worried about. Look there she is, speeding around as per”

Mary wandered over wondering what her brothers were speaking about now. She had arranged this entire event. It was too long since she had seen her older and younger brother.

“What you two talking about now? And how’s the spread? Are the sandwiches ok? Do you want another drink Thomas?”

“A million questions in a sentence, you” replied Thomas

“Thomas was just saying he’d still beat me in a race, but not you Mary” James smiled as he said his sister’s name, “and if you’re offering, I’ll take another drink”

“With age comes wisdom, looks like Thomas knows when he’s beat then! And no James, you’ve had enough, Mum always said you overdid it, you’ve been here a few hours and you’re on your 5th drink. It’s not even 7pm.”

“I’ll be gone soon don’t worry sis…”

“Don’t sis me. Thomas, tell him”

“You definitely won’t beat me in a race if you carry on James” Thomas sipped his red wine and grinned with the glass in his face at his remark.

“Fine, fine, fine. I’ll play nice”

“Glad to hear James, now go say hi to your Aunt Julie over there”

James left the corner where they were standing and walked over the dancefloor and began speaking to his Aunt while Thomas and Mary stayed near the food and drink

“How do you think he’s coping?” asked Mary

“Coping? He’s a wreck. He always has been prone to this shit. Thanks for putting this altogether though Mary. Sorry I’ve been out of whack, I’m not all here.”

“Don’t worry Tom-Tom, that’s what these events are for after all. It’s always a nice way to catch up with family.”

“I’ll drink to that sis. I’ll be back, just got to go to the loo”

“Fine by me”

Thomas walked past the dancefloor and paused near the stage which was just before the men’s toilet on the left and the women’s on the right. He stared briefly at the mural on the wall of an elderly woman with a wreath beneath it and sighed.

“Rest in peace mum” he said and carried on into the toilet, unzipping his trousers as he pushed the door.