In The Heat Of The Night

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I woke up in the wee hours this morning and didn’t even glance at the clock. I didn’t need too. I know what stupid o’clock feels like.

When I opened my eyes, expecting to see nothing but shadows, I wasn’t disappointed. My eyes don’t do well in the dark. I have virtually no night vision, and what little I have takes forever to kick in. In the almost complete darkness of our room, my eyes were drawn to a shadow even darker than the rest. It was standing in front of the mirror. At first glance it was humanoid in shape but recent nighttime wanderings have taught me these sorts of shadows are rarely actual people.

And by rarely, I mean never.

People-shaped shadows like this one, I knew from experience, are not to be feared and are usually nothing but sleep in my eye or household flotsam temporarily stationed where it shouldn’t be.

I suspect it was fear of drowning which woke me. Those of you in Southeast Queensland will know how dreadful the heat last night. The fan was whipping around overhead in an almost manic fashion but must surely have been wondering at the fruitlessness of its task. Instead of cooling me down, all that seemed to be happening was the fanned hot air was pushing the beads of sweat off my torso and down my flanks, congregating uselessly between my body and the sheet. I was splashing about in a pool of my own sweat and it seemed to be getting deeper.

I knew what I had to do: I had to creep into the girls’ room at the other end of the house. Theirs was the only bedroom which our sole air-conditioner in the lounge room would reach. I knew there was a soft, comfortable bed free in the girls’ room because the four older kids were sleeping on the lounge.

The only problem was my wife. I needed to sneak past her.

It wasn’t fear of waking her and the reprisals which scared me: it was that she might wake and want Miss6’s bed for herself!

I sat up and lowered my feet to the floor. There was no movement from her side of the bed. I stood. Nothing. I took two steps and stubbed my toe on a washing basket. I sucked the pain in through my teeth and went on more cautiously.

I’d made it all the way into the dark hallway before I remembered my pillow.

As silently as I knew how, I worked my way back to my side of the bed, slowly retrieved my pillow, re-stubbed my toe and withdrew from the room for the second time in as many minutes.

My wife hadn’t made so much as a murmur and I mentally high-fived myself.

But the next bit was tricky.

Between the hallway and the lounge room are a set of double, swinging, squeaky doors, which we have been loath to oil because they form the basis of our early warning system for when we’re feeling amorous and the kids decide to surprise us with a nocturnal visit.

I edged one side of door open just enough to squeeze my frame through – that is to say, almost all the way. It eeeeeee-eee-ee–eeeee-eeeeeeked open, but at least I managed to close it quietly. Immediately I felt a chill as the cold air assaulted my drenched clothes. It was heaven, and I knew then I’d made the right decision. So long as I didn’t wake my wife I had this in the bag.

I listened. Nothing. Not from our room. Not from the kids, who were no doubt all sleeping within meters of where I was, but whose presence I’d never guess at if not for this pre-existing knowledge because our lounge room, without any windows of its own, is the darkest in the house. And viewed with my keen eyesight, it’s possibly the darkest spot in the entire universe.

Pillow clutched protectively in front of me, so if I stumbled and fell I’d have a soft landing, I stepped cautiously towards where I knew the girls’ room was. Seconds later I was through their door and no more than five half steps from precious sleep.

Only problem now was my wife had changed the layout of this room during the week. I knew I had to be super careful in here or risk injury. Actually, according to my big toe that would be further injury.

I stared blankly around the room trying to make out any shadowy landmarks to help direct me. Another of those humanoid shadows loomed ahead of me near where I assumed one of the beds was situated. Again, I ignored it and moved towards the bed.

And then I shat myself.

“Is that you, Bruce!?” demanded the shadow. My wife had beaten me there after all! It seems she’d woken up at an even earlier stupid o’clock and sensibly made her way to Miss6’s bed and the cool sanity offered by the air-con.  “You’ve been making a great bloody racket since you got out of bed! Are you wearing clogs?” Tracey asked as I peeled myself off the ceiling.

So instead of Miss6’s wonderful bed I moved Master8’s mattress onto the lounge room floor and collapsed on it.

But on the bright side, I was closer to the air-con than Tracey, so I’m seeing this as a win.

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When not over here, Bruce Devereaux hangs out at his Big Family Little Income Facebook Page. Come join us 🙂

”Raising a family on little more than laughs.”

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