It is always the same on the weekend the clocks go back. As if the world has stopped, and the first cold spell of Winter has everyone hermetically sealing themselves indoors. Sleep has become all there is.
You make balsamic vinegar bread and watch Miss Marple. You are knitting a row of vanilla lemon bunting and the clickety clack of your needles is the music of your weekend, for as long as you can manage to sit. For with stillness comes more sleep, so you try to keep moving. To get into the car and go searching for the tiny bookcase you have decided you will not last a day longer without. The bookcase you have described in your dreams. Old, oak, fluted sides and three shelves. No taller than waist height.
This then is always the answer. When the world is lost to you, you take control the only way you know how: by obsessing over your surroundings. Lighting candles and wiping down furniture. Growling at those who will not help you keep up appearances. Because this house is precious now. Now that the threat of having it taken away by your ex-partner has become so very real, it is so very precious and you are frankly terrified. Fear of losing the world that was yours, coloring all the other terrible decisions you have to make and rendering your life a grey swirl of absolute terror.
Once on a train to Liverpool you sat with your animated little boy, staring out the window and disturbing the other passengers by laughing too loudly at his Finnicisms. And then the train stopped and a gang of cherub-faced teenage boys surrounded you both and the last of your babies wit fell from his lips before he closed his eyes to shut out the horror of being squashed against the window by bigger boys in hoods. Two minutes later he was asleep, all the better to wish himself away.
The apple never falls far from the tree. Now that your very own set of bigger boys have come a-knocking, sleep seems to be the perfect solution. Though you cannot find the bookcase of your dreams you buy yet another mattress topper and take it home to wish yourself away on a more comfortable cloud. An entire afternoon lost to testing it out: to sleeping in the day and waking up feeling refreshed at six o’clock in the evening. Ready to stand at the oven stirring mushroom meatballs in a rich red sauce and make quiet conversation until it is time to crawl back into bed all over again.
Now though, it is five thirty in the morning and neither you, nor your little one are asleep. Over night his face has swelled up all over again, the result of a saliva gland infection, following his sialogram last week. All the lights are still out and you are curled up with him under a granny blanket watching Doctor Who say a tearful goodbye to his companion. Your day already tinged with something like sorrow. This then is what fear tastes like: bittersweet and precious. Much feared loneliness on the horizon, no matter which way you turn. The loss of everything you know written large and seemingly unavoidable.
You wait until eight fifteen and then begin the first of the one hundred phone calls it will take before you make it through to the doctors switchboard. One hundred presses of the same button until you hear a voice tell you that within the twenty minutes it has taken to get through, all the appointments have gone and you will need to repeat this terrible, irritating performance all over again. But no. No, No. No.
Your child needs antibiotics today and you will have them, so you fight your corner, because fighting your corner is what you do. You are a Mother. Fighting his corner is the same thing. For antibiotics. For his home and for all your tomorrows.
If only this permanent war wasn’t so exhausting.