*unexpected, sudden noise*
What the shitting hell was that? I think to myself while I shove my face through the curtains in a fashion I think is completely stealthy and surreptitious. Once I’m satisfied that there’s no one lurking behind the rubbish bags on the street, I go through the house and do the same at the back door, taking particular interest in the pop-up tent and trampoline. There could be a cackling maniac on the loose, hell-bent on invading people’s gardens at night to frolic on their play equipment while the owners sleep, totally unaware.
Oh God, what if they’re in the house?
I close the curtains again, lock the doors and creep upstairs, my back flat against the wall, because ya know, that’s what they do in films, right? The cat joins me, squirming around my ankles, she knows some shit’s going down too and spurs me on.
I bypass my own bedroom, the constant low (yet somehow deafening) snore emanating from within would surely put them off hiding in there and head straight to Bean’s room to prize the door open.
I’m met with nothing more than snuffly grunts while Noah writhes around his bed, sweaty and fast asleep.
Checking under the bed only to find the usual devastation of an entire castle scene, Playmobil men decapitated and bodies strewn everywhere, like Game of Thrones for fucking five year olds, I admit defeat and head back downstairs, making sure everything’s locked and arm myself with a toy light saber for protection. I sit on the sofa and somewhat shaken, resume what I was doing when I was startled by the unexpected noise.
I press play on the TV.
And THWACK – it hits me, straight between the eyes. (I mean this figuratively, obvs, the flashback of the sound, not the axe belonging to my imagined intruder.)
I was laughing.
A sound I didn’t recognise. A sound I’ve not heard properly for over a year. A sound I’ve tried to fake and force unsuccessfully a gazillion times, when really, it’s the easiest sound to make naturally.
Something completely innocuous on TV actually managed to wheedle through the barriers and caused a good reaction in me, rather than making me feel worse or causing me to think about how things should be, how I should be.
The pills, it’s the pills. Is this me or is it the pills making a beta 2.0 version of me? The guilt of all those times when I should have been able to react normally, and smile and nod and laugh at the funny bits when Noah’s talking to me about school and ninjas and poo.
For a brief moment, I consider grabbing the small white box stuffed with blister packs of the little intruders and flushing them down the toilet. Hating them a little bit for giving me something in just three weeks that I haven’t managed alone in over a year.
I pause the TV again, another sound, my mouth gaping open to listen better for a moment, and I realise it’s Bean, giggling in his sleep, muffled into his pillow, dreaming.
And that’s the moment I know I couldn’t. That I couldn’t deprive my home of another second of laughter and silliness, of my son never being able to remember his mum laughing, only the same stretched smile with dead eyes.
That’s when I let the intruders stay and put down the fucking light saber that was still gripped in my hand.