At lunch, the little boy squirms, impatient to escape from the dinner table. He pesters and pleads with his father until at last, worn down by the endless complaining, his father sets him free.
His gleaming new toys beckon him from underneath the Christmas tree, and the TV guide lies open, slyly showing all the marvellous movies that are currently on. The boy ignores them both.
He sprints upstairs, switches on the clunky computer and goes on Skype.
As promised, she is online, waiting for him. He double clicks on her name and her face fills the screen, smiling at him from the other side of the world. He hasn’t seen her for seven months.
Her khaki uniform is covered in dust. She smiles like a star in a distant galaxy, distant but warm.
“Merry Christmas, Mommy!”