The boiler is broken. Apparently the circuit board has exploded and it will cost a billion pounds to replace. You keep moving or else your toes will drop off.
Though it is half-eleven and you have been up for hours yourself, your son is still asleep: curled up like a mouse under the pile of quilts and duvets that weigh down his dreams and remind his sensory-challenged body that he exists. That he is safe and will not float off in to the sky if he is weighted down. You go in and put a hand on his head to check he isn’t dead. He does not flinch but his hair is damp and you wonder whether he is coming down with something on the eve of his return to school.
You go back downstairs with the dog chasing your dressing-gown belt, for you have not yet got dressed. Too busy wiping down the paintwork to notice for tomorrow another man is coming to view your house and you do not want to watch his eyes trail over the dust living in the nooks and crannies of the bannister.
In the kitchen a block of pastry and a bag of chopped onions already fried are defrosting on the top of the stove. You were planning a cheese and onion pie but do not have as much cheese as you imagined in the fridge and will need to re-think your culinary intentions. Perhaps a Quiche wobbly with more eggs. Perhaps a rich butter pie with potatoes, mustard and what little cheese you have.
You sip at apple and cinnamon tea and wander about as you drink it: your head filled with must-be-dones and wish- I-coulds. Outside the lane remains foggy and a grumpy old man in a tweed cap shuffles along, pulling his terrier through the gutter.
Yoga is cancelled for the evening. Ste has got a shivery cold. Your Dad’s starter motor has died. The child is still asleep. You want to stop. To sit in front of a blazing fire: but you cannot put the fire on yourself and shamefully require the services of a man to provide warmth. You want to lose yourself in the nostalgic charms of another writers love affairs with her own houses. To provide the dog with a voice so he can explain what he has done with your other cranberry red slipper.
But there is work to be done. Words to be written. A house to be scrubbed. A child to wake up. You make him a cup of warm milky tea, prepared to take it to him in his bed. But when you turn around he is there, looking like a crisis with the hood of his black dressing gown up over eyes still stuck together with sleep. He falls in to you and you stand together on the cold kitchen tiles.
He isn’t little any more. Almost up to your five foot seven chin. But he is still your baby on this quiet Tuesday morning in November.