Wake me, Don’t Wake me: 2013 365 Challenge #93

Meeting the Easter  Bunny at the Farm

Meeting the Easter Bunny at the Farm

Can I start with a random aside? I think Easter Bunnies are rather creepy. I wouldn’t normally take my kids to see one but we went with friends to the Farm today and did a bunch of stuff we don’t normally do. Doesn’t the bunny here look like he’s thinking of kidnapping my children?

I read a post yesterday about why school is hard for parents as well as children:

Ten Ways School Sucks for Adults as much as Kids

It got me thinking about structure and life.

Where is the happy balance between waking up knowing what the day ahead holds and waking with the excitement of not knowing what’s happening next (or with the option of rolling over and pulling the duvet back up over my head while the kids take themselves off to play or watch TV)?

Watching TV while Mum does cleaning

Watching TV while Mum does cleaning

Hubbie found out – today – that he won’t be starting work tomorrow after all.

IT issues apparently.

He might start next Monday, he might not. Considering he has been out of work for five months you’d think an extra few days wouldn’t matter. But we were all looking forward to at least a temporary return to routine. Now we’re back to muddling through, taking each day as it comes, making plans after breakfast, if at all. Routine seems like a holy grail that’s persistently out of reach.

On the flip side, the idea of Amber starting school this September scares me: Having to be organised five days a week, 38 weeks of the year, not just for me but for four people. And doing that for the next fifteen years (at least). In the days when I had a job, I barely managed to get myself to a desk by 8am every day. And what about days like today when the sky was finally blue and the sun shone. The Farm was the only place to be after so much cloud and snow. What if today had been a school day? Will I be like my Dad and take them anyway and sod the consequences? I’ve never been one for breaking the rules, but surely they’ll grow more as people for the odd adventure?

The thing that worries me most, though? How will I manage five days of clean, ironed uniform? 🙂

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:

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“Auntie Claire!”

Claire braced for impact as a whirling dervish of blonde hair and pink net hurtled down the corridor and hugged her knees. Déjà vu. I wonder if she has any other way of greeting visitors? This time Claire didn’t feel the urge to shake off her niece. Instead she dropped to her knees and gave the narrow shoulders a tight hug.

“Hey Sky. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there to collect you yesterday.” She avoided making eye contact with her mother, who had appeared behind Sky in the corridor. “Crossed wires, I’m afraid.” She looked down at the elfin face and saw a wobbling bottom lip. “Don’t cry, Sky. I’ll make it up to you.”

The jutting lip vanished and blue eyes sparkled. “Will you take me shopping? Mummy says you spend an ob… omscene… amount on clothes. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds fun.”

Blood rushed to Claire’s face but any chagrin at her niece’s repeated words vanished when she caught sight of her mother’s face. Ha, forgot your granddaughter can listen did you? I wonder what other titbits I’ll discover? It’s going to be like working with Carl again, but it will be worth it to find out what they really think of me.

“Hush now, Sky.” Madeleine pulled her granddaughter away and sent her down the corridor with a push. “Ruth’s in bed. Sky’s bag is packed so you can leave whenever you want to.”

Looking up into those blank eyes, Claire wondered when her mother had become such a cow. Then the words sank in, and she rose slowly to her feet. “I thought I was spending the night here? The hostel is booked for tomorrow.” The idea of trying to find two beds in a hostel at short notice on Easter weekend made her throat dry. She was about to remonstrate when she sensed the emotion pouring off her mother, filling the close space around them. Claire shivered. The need to grab Sky and walk back out the front door consumed her.

“Fine. We’ll find a hotel.”

She pushed past her mother and went in search of her niece.

Claire waited in the doorway until her eyes adjusted to the gloom, breathing quietly as she listened to see if Ruth was awake. At last her sister’s form materialised out of the dark and she saw the glittering light of open eyes.

“I’m so sorry,” Claire whispered, walking towards the bed. “Did I wake you?”

“No, I rarely sleep. I stay in bed because Sky tends to leave me alone a little bit more. I love her to bits, but she’s a bit overpowering at the moment.”

“And me not collecting her yesterday didn’t help. I really am sorry, I was convinced you said Thursday.”

A dry chuckle turned into a hacking cough. “I probably did. I put the cheese in the breadbin and the butter in the cutlery drawer yesterday. My brain doesn’t seem to be working quite as it did.”

Her words were barely audible but they twisted like a corkscrew into Claire’s rib cage. She wanted to scoop her sister up in a hug and tell her how much she loved her. The words wouldn’t come. Instead she brushed her hand gently across Ruth’s hot forehead.

“I do stuff like that too, and I don’t have your excuse. Don’t worry about Sky. I’ll take good care of her. Hopefully two weeks of peace will allow you to recoup your strength. You’ll be back to yourself in no time.” Her voice sounded fake to her: she hoped her sister was more convinced.

Ruth reached out a hand. As Claire took it she shuddered: her sister’s bones poked through her wasted skin like broken sticks in a silk sack. I’m glad it’s dark.

Her sister squeezed, the action barely registering against Claire’s grip. “Take care of my little girl, Claire. I know she’s in good hands.”

Claire nodded, unable to speak, even though she knew her sister wouldn’t see her response in the dark. She lowered the hand to the bed and turned to go before her emotions overwhelmed her. As she reached the door, she heard Ruth call her name.

“Claire…”

She returned to the bed and bent close to catch the whispered words.

“…Thank you.”

***

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