Sofa Saturday: 2013 365 Challenge #272

Sofa Saturday

Sofa Saturday

We let the kids have a sofa Saturday today.

Weekends haven’t figured much in our lives, certainly not for the last year, with hubbie looking for work and the kids only in childcare a couple of times a week. But now my firstborn is at school, Saturday comes back into its own.

I had to write my post (I’ve been struggling with story line recently, and it’s easier to come up with ideas in the morning), so I filled the lounge with cushions and let the kids watch TV while I searched my brain for inspiration.

I’ve noticed that my daughter is taking more time to be by herself since starting school. Not surprising really, as her joint class has over fifty children. For someone who has spent most of her life with just her brother to play with, the volume of kids is completely overwhelming. She starts full time next week and I’m actually thankful the teachers are on strike on Tuesday, just to let her have a day’s breather in what will be a long and tiring week.

We finally coaxed her out of her pyjamas after lunch, and dragged the family to the farm, dog and all. It was a bit of a waste, as she could barely keep her eyes open and little man – who has marched into the tiresome threes with passion – was in full back-chat, pushing the limits mode. We came home and collapsed exhausted. With all the emotional upheaval and sleepless nights of this week, I think we all need to take it easy.

So, an early night for the little ones, a glass of wine and some homemade lasagne for hubbie and I, a decent dose of Strictly Come Dancing, and it’s about the perfect Saturday. Now to go and make some more misery for Claire. Poor lass.

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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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Claire stared into the darkness, aware that her alarm would drag her from sleep in only a few hours. The need to rest pulled at her but her eyes wouldn’t close. The phone on the pillow next to her face remained stubbornly still. She willed it to shine with good news. Or any news. The wait stretched her nerves until she felt she might snap.

Around her, gentle breathing indicated the other sleepers in the room. Claire envied them their peace. The last person had stumbled in an hour before, bumping and bashing the bunks before crawling under the covers and starting to snore. For the first time, Claire found the sound soothing. Normal.

Her heart thudded out time in her chest and she tried to imagine what might be happening around the other side of the world, where the sun was probably high in the sky.

Why hasn’t he sent me a message? Surely he knows something by now.

The thought that he’d arrived too late, and was too distraught to contact her, ran over and over like a stuck record. Claire fought the repetition with words of her own.

She’s not dead. She’s not dead.

At last the phone flashed bright light into the darkness. The hammering in Claire’s chest increased in tempo, booming into the silence. Her hands shook as she reached for the phone and it took a while for her eyes to focus.

We’re in the hospital. She’d taken all her meds, but the docs have sorted it. Hoping she’ll be fine. Thank you, you saved her life. Come see her when you land, I think she needs you. J

Claire slumped back against the pillows and let the adrenalin flow from her limbs into the lumpy mattress. Relief, guilt, exhaustion, swirled around like smoke. With shallow breaths, Claire allowed the news to sink in.

She’s going to be okay. She has to be.

*

The alarm tore through Claire’s troubled dreams. Vivid images of chasing across an endless field after a fleeting shadow danced infront of her eyes, even as she blinked to ground herself in the present. There was no time to think. The coach was leaving early and she had to be on it.

It should have been an amazing day; the perfect finish to her journey around New Zealand. The coach took them through a pass in the mountains and down into Twizel. Around them the alps stretched magnificent to a clear blue sky, the snow-capped peaks dazzling with their brightness.

Claire felt encased in lead. The beauty couldn’t touch her. Her body still trembled with spent emotion and she had to resist the urge to text Jeff every five minutes for an update. It was night time back home: if he was asleep he deserved the rest.

They arrived at Lake Tekapo and Claire looked across at Mt Cook in the distance. The iconic image of New Zealand was as remote as if she were viewing it from home. The tranquility clashed with Claire’s urgency to be moving. The coach was too slow, the passengers too relaxed – spending just another five minutes soaking in the view, just another five minutes finishing their lunch, taking one last photograph.

Come on, come on! I’ve got a plane to catch.

Wishing she’d found the extra money to take an Intercity coach, Claire made sure she was always first on the bus, hoping her punctuality would ensure their timely departure.

*

They drove into Christchurch after the sun had set. Claire couldn’t bring herself to check the time. She already knew she was cutting it dangerously close, getting to the airport in time for check in.

Staring at Christchurch out the window, part of Claire’s brain regretted not having time to explore the garden city. From what she could see, it was very like Cambridge, with the canals and the punts, all tied up waiting for the morning.

With any luck I’ll be in the real Cambridge the day after tomorrow. That’s what’s important.

Claire wrapped her hand around the strap of her rucksack, already on the seat next to her ready for her to dash from the coach as soon as it stopped. The coach seemed to be barely moving, stuck in the city traffic.

The knots tightened in Claire’s stomach as she tried not to contemplate what horrors awaited her if she missed her flight.

***

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