I sort of wake, though I wasn’t really asleep. I’d been trance-like and dozing yet aware of light finding its way into the room in semi circle shapes at the top of the closed curtains. A breeze moving them sometimes as if someone might be holding on to the material at the bottom.
I turn my head on the pillow and see his own, turned away. His breathing regular and his adam’s apple so prominent as with most teenage boys. I push my fully clothed self to a seated position, feeling nausea tug at my belly, and he sighs and turns further, dragging the duvet with him.
A carton of orange juice with one corner torn to let the sugary liquid escape. I recall he’d ignored my suggestion he make a tear in the other corner, to stop it glugging so violently into the beakers.
The bottle of vodka sits tall on his desk, but half empty. Biology worksheets reflected somehow in the clear liquid. How full had it been? And when my parents called up to say it was time to go, why didn’t I respond? I can’t remember.
The dew makes my toes damp, but the September days had been warm and last night no exception so flip flops had been fine. Our houses, identical though mirrored in design, amongst a collection of the same, were not twenty paces apart.
Not yet 5am. Parents would still be sleeping off the effects of a dinner party; I’d be able to sneak upstairs and into my own bed and she’d be none the wiser.
But this was no ordinary mother.
The back door handle performs perfectly and I avoid the squeak which kicks in at ninety degrees. Closing it silently behind me, taking more than eleven seconds to achieve, I allow myself the realisation that I am adept at deceipt perhaps. I’m not sure this is a good thing.
The concrete below the carpets in these sixties houses ensures no floorboard creaking but the stairs will take a little more care. Number three and seven to be avoided; I stick to the edges and hold my breath. I pause on the penultimate stair as my parents’ bedroom door is now inches from me, and ajar.
Dad’s gentle snoring reaches my ears, which pound in time to my racing heartbeat, and after waiting a few seconds to make sure there is no change, I straddle the landing carpet and like some SAS soldier arrive silently at my bedroom door, which again is open.
Phew, I exhale only once inside the room. Safety. Or is it?
I take one step towards my bed where I had planned to flop but stop dead in my tracks. The duvet is not flat.
‘Thought you’d get away with it, did you?’