The moon is busting through the gap at the top of the curtains where the clothespeg is supposed to be. I have been dozing on and off since you woke up and wanted your top off.
“Too hot. My top is not comfy.”
“Sit up and I’ll take it off.”
The top is off, and mine is off too, and we settle back down. But it is obvious we are both in the state of semi-dozing – where it feels like no sleep at all. Almost an hour later your little voice comes calm and quiet out of the moonlit gloom.
“Mama, I can’t sleep.”
“Neither can I,” I whisper.
A year or so ago you would not have been able to explain yourself so well and I might have groaned with frustration at the intrusion, back when sleep was like gold dust. But now we share a cuddle in the dark.
“Maybe it’s because there’s too much moonlight coming through the curtains,” I say. “I’ll fix it.”
I teeter around on the bed, half nude, with the nightlight in one hand, trying not to step on the slumbering six-year-old. I peg the top of the curtains together. The room darkens.
“I’ll try one more time to go to sleep, but if that doesn’t work, we’ll just get up. Okay?” you say, like the most self possessed three-year-old in existence.
Your little arm reaches out to my shoulder, to my chest. Touches and eventually relaxes. Under the blanket I read my Kindle, half of me living in Donna Tartt’s shellshocked New York, half of me hearing the wind and the soft breathing of my present. A train whistles – it’s after 5am.
I lie and muse on coeliac disease, cancer, homeschooling, how long it took Donna Tartt to write ‘The Goldfinch” and remember reading somewhere it took her ten years. I wish for a cup of tea and wonder, yet again, whether it would be better to extract myself from the bed by wriggling down and out the end, or…
As always happens, one of you stirs and I take that as my cue to sit up and ease out from between the both of you, collecting Kindle, blanket and slippers on my way to the kettle. It is 5.30am.
Early wakening is something you read in psychiatric reports – a symptom of depression. I am not depressed. My brain is fizzing. My body is inactive. I pledge to myself that I will go to the beach and WALK ALONG IT. Although, as the next four days are awash with committments, I’m not sure when that will happen.
I turn off the gas before the kettle hoots. The wind shushes through the trees and what sounds like a gang of tiny birds whistle through the dark mixing amongst a sprinkle of wind chimes. The day is about to begin.
– Goldfinch picture from Etsy