The following day climbs the morning sky without hurry, leaving behind it streaks of lazy purple-grey, a fabric blanket of smoky hues and crispy clouds. It is Saturday, and I am awake early despite my usual attempts at lounging in bed. My record as it stands is noon, though I know if I stayed up late enough I could sleep well past three. Though, given that the point of lie-ins is to gain sleep instead of keep myself up all night and waste it, I usually cave in by midnight and fall asleep almost
instantly. Not bothering to brush my hair or wash or change, I drag myself out of bed and find my way downstairs. Saturdays usually mean pancakes, which mean syrup and Dad’s delicious apple-cinnamon jam. He got his culinary skills from his mother, who is still alive but visits rarely because she claims her eyesight is diminishing – which is ironic, but I let it slide every time I see her. She’s my Grandma, at the end of the day, and despite her inability to react rationally to a
situation that would be easily remedied by a pair of glasses; she’s the only
grandparent I have left.
Coffee repulses me, but I don’t mind tea, so as I feel the cold tiles of the kitchen floor I slide over to the kettle and throw a few teabags at the pot to brew. It will be ready in time for when Mum gets up, which is usually around eight: by the shuffling of pages turning escaping from the front room, I guess that Dad is already awake. I follow the sounds of his reading into the living area and knock quietly on the wooden arch that half separates this room from the kitchen.
“Hey, kiddo,” he mumbles, folding his paper in half and throwing it in the general direction of the paper basket. It lands a good two feet away from it, almost in the open fire, but he either hasn’t noticed his lack of aim or doesn’t care. The one of
many things I love about my father is his ability to forget all about the activity he had been carrying out before I spoke and focus all his attention on me. I don’t consider myself selfish or attention seeking, but when one of my senses has for five years been entirely compromised it doesn’t seem fair that I should negotiate any time whatsoever with my Dad.
“Morning,” I return, guiding my backside to the arm of the chair and seating myself upon it. He reaches for my hand and picks it to his lips which momentarily press to it a kiss. “Did you sleep well?”
“Like a baby,” he admits sheepishly, before placing my hand neatly back on my lap. It feels warmer after he has held it, like his affection keeps me protected, or
something symbolic like that that they try to teach us in English class. (Having
said that, I almost never go to English, if I can help it. I usually attempt to
accumulate monster headaches during that period, which never fails to earn me a
free pass to the library where it is quieter and I can determine the intentions of past literary greats without having Mr Willoughby tell me what to think.) “How did you sleep?”
“Fine,” I say, because it’s true. The perks of not being able to do what I can’t mean that my dreams are as vivid as ever. There, I can be just like the ten year old whose
childhood was comparatively unblemished.
For a few minutes it seems as though our conversation is over. I lean back so that my spine rests against the back of Dad’s armchair – he has picked up the paper again, letting his head lean on my shoulder which is stationed at just the right height. The silence is comfortable, in the way that Sundays are after everybody has finished eating and the dishes are clean and there isn’t anything left to do but be and feel comfortable. The birds outside were awake hours ago, but now they are quiet, leaving the world to go about its business. From the hallway I hear the Grandfather clock, its ticking loud and steady and omnipresent, a replacement for the Grandad I once knew and for the one I never did, it’s presence reassuring even when my surrounds spin circles around me and the hustle of the city makes my life harder just by being there in all its expansive networks and grand anonymity.