Lights Out

Saturday morning. Sunday morning. Whatever. No different to any of the other mornings falling on days that end with y. It might be a circadian rhythm thing or purely the fact that I am north of 40 now, but my bladder wakes me up like an alarm clock at around a quarter to seven, and refuses to take no for an answer. If I try to fight it, then said bladder gives the bowels a shout and gets them in on the act, forcing me to get up out of bed lest a very bad childhood accident befalls me. I sidestep the creaking floorboard halfway between the bed and where my housecoat (or dressing gown as it’s known by everyone except by me apparently) hangs, then leave the room in the belief I am moving as stealthily as a ninja.

It’s out on the landing that I habitually look at the staircase that leads to my eldest son’s room. It is a converted attic space which I am envious of, and that has no door, the only privacy afforded to him being you cannot see directly into the living (and sleeping and all the other ing) space from down here.

Before he leaves the house for work in the pub and nightclub on a Friday or Saturday evening, his ritual is to shut the blackout blind on the skylight window and put on the lamp on his desk. The light from the lamp is visible from the landing, so the hope each weekend morning is that when I emerge from my bedroom, I will see the room in darkness, for this means he is home, safe, and breathing. Which is not easy to discern, because his breathing is so quiet when he’s dead to the world, you would swear he holds his breath the whole time his eyes are closed.

On a Saturday or Sunday it could be three o’clock in the afternoon before we see him.

Which gets me to thinking.

What if.

What if he’s not up there asleep?

What if the bulb blew at some stage during the night and he’s not home, but out there somewhere in trouble?

What if it’s not him up there, who switched off the light, and is now silently waiting patiently for us to leave, as we do during the day every weekend, and is going to, I don’t know, do something altogether unpleasant later.

After all, there are two other teenagers in the house, and they can stay in their rooms for hours on end, glued to phone screens, ignoring everything including hunger, paying no heed to any sounds or creaks they hear, simply assuming it’s one of the others moving about.

I think there’s a story in there somewhere.

Some time.

Some day.


Photo by Atanas Teodosiev on Unsplash

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