It’s 6am and it’s crying. I pick at the sleep in my eyes and wait for Mum to come in while the midget boom box exercises its lungs at Mariah Carey pitch. I roll over and wedge the pillow into my ears.
Still waiting. She doesn’t come.
An ear-bleeding eternity later and I make out the lower pitch of Mum’s morning voice whine from the room next door,
“Traaaace! Do ‘im a bottle for me.”
I hold my breath trying to distinguish motherly footsteps moving to sooth the offspring. Instead,
I roll over, unpeeling from my polyester cocoon and fix my eyes in a brown spot on the ceiling. I contemplate doing nothing but I can’t be bothered with the agro.
My flat footed trudge to the tub of powder milk puts plasterboard between me and the infant alarm clock. Eyes down I notice a pair of size 12, tan leather brogues by the back door. Last fortnight they were some cheap trainers in size 9, half hidden under a blue and white splash jacket; a pack of Marlboro Reds hanging out the pocket.
After testing the milk on my wrist I lift the monster in blue out of his cot and cradle him as I am so used to doing. Huge, grateful eyes stare back at me and my jaw begins to relax.
The back door bangs but misses the latch – a tell-tale sign of unfamiliarity – whilst my pink-slippered, skinny-legged mother pads over to us, smiling through smudged lipstick.
“Fancy a trip into town today love?”