12th July 2010
I can remember there was a storm that night. Not that it was unusual. Being right on the coast meant the wind blew hard, hitting the walls of the house and making a howling noise that reverberated around the building. My room always got it the worst because I was in the small attic like room at the top of the house which always caught the wind.
At first it used to scare me. I would curl up in a tiny ball under my duvet and listen to the roaring wind, terrified it would blow our house away with us still in it, just like in The Wizard of Oz. The first night it happened I remember running downstairs to Dad and forcing him to come and sleep in my bed with me. He came, a little reluctantly, and held me tightly as the winds howled outside the room.
The next morning at breakfast he said we needed to talk. He told me that I could only keep the attic room if I didn’t have to get him every time there was a storm.
‘It’s one of the things that goes with living here. Do you think you can live with it?’ I had nodded, my five-year-old self not remembering how scared I had been during the night, thinking that the room was worth it.
Luckily, after time, I got used to the bad weather and in a strange way I began to find it comforting as I got older. I felt safe, shut up in my room, knowing the howling winds and the waves crashing on the beach a few feet away from our house couldn't get me. I was protected by my own little bubble.
12th/13th July 2009
I couldn't sleep. The rain battering against the single tiny window across the room from my bed made me feel restless. It must have been in the early hours of the morning, when I finally turned on my bedside lamp, swung my legs out of bed, carefully avoiding the creaky floorboard, and padded softly over to my wardrobe, if that's what you could call it. What it really was, was a hole in my wall that Dad had neatened up with a few planks of wood, some paint and an old curtain that you could pull across the opening.
My entire room was like my wardrobe, slightly shabby. The walls, which were once pure white, were now dull with age and the paint was starting to peel. The chest of drawers my father had bought second-hand when we'd moved in, was now tired and the mirror above needed a good clean.
I looked at the wonky shelf above the clothes rail, reaching up and running my hand along the spines of the books that sat there. But these weren't just any books. They were memories from my childhood, the few precious books that had survived years of clear outs and jumble sales. I loved each and every one because they reminded me of a time when I loved to read and didn't worry about the world around me. I was happy.
I looked at the titles, remembering each one. Little Women, Heidi, What Katy Did, then as I got older, Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. So many different stories and adventures I had experienced. Things I had experienced alone. Someone once told me that being told stories as a child is one of the most important experiences of a person's life. I had never had that luxury. My father didn't like reading so I'd had to learn for myself.
But my hand stopped where it always did, on a battered old book that was falling to pieces with age, my childhood favourite, The Faraway Tree. I don't know what it was but the word of Enid Blyton had stayed with me throughout my life, always there, sitting and waiting for when they were needed.
Taking the book from the shelf and the blanket from the end of my bed, I walked softly over to the windowsill, avoiding the noisier parts of my floor. The windowsill was just deep enough for me to sit comfortably there, wrapped up in my blanket and a book on my lap. The light from my bedside light was just bright enough for me to read by, so I snuggled into my corner and opened the book to the first page.
As the words flowed over me I could feel my eyelids drooping. I don't know why I fought it, but eventually I drifted of into sleep, my book still resting on my lap.