Those Magical Nights

By Alison June 16, 2023 No Comments 6 Min Read

I had the oddest of nights last night. I had cancelled an evening out because it was hot. Well no, of course I can’t possibly come out tonight, it is sweltering. Are you an ACTUAL idiot? But thank you kindly, truly, madly, deeply. I like you most sincerely.

Now where were we? Ah yes, it was hot. The type of stupid hot that makes your blood sizzle and the walls sweat. The sort that has got the cat flaking in a dead swoon as he wanders across the living room apparently so encumbered by the lack of oxygen that he gives up his thirty second trek to the water bowl and just expires instead. The kind of heat that makes me feel unreasonable. And so swollen that the very idea of sitting about making small talk seems as uninviting as asking Andrew Tate round for a cup of iced tea and having a nice chat about toxic masculinity.

After a long day sorting things out with Finley, he ironed a crisp white t-shirt, (because he does that now: he irons!) refused to wear shorts – because a) he doesn’t own any and b) apparently the happy little bars of Burscough do not deserve the pleasure of his legs no matter how hot it may be – and then headed out with Harry to create a little mayhem in a village that frankly does not deserve it.

And there I was, just me, myself and the kind of ridiculous temperature that would not be talked down. On nights like these watching TV feels claustrophobic, (even the notion!) and a person can only take so many tepid peppermint showers, so I wandered the garden in slow circles, brushing up this and that, frowning at a lawn burnt to a crisp, and laughing at Meep who sat on the threshold of the conservatory meowing loudly in an effort to save my life as I had clearly ventured into what he considers the underneath, and could at any minute be swallowed up whole by the many green bags of grass cuttings blocking the garden gate.

Night fell late, wrapping her dark around me as I sat beside the parasol I cannot open, a cushion on my knee to clutch like so many pearls and a drained glass of elderflower tonic at my side. Suddenly aware that the garden fairy lights had switched themselves on and an owl was hooting in the huge trees behind the house, and suddenly starkly aware that only a small plate of ham and olives would solve a spirit with nothing to haunt.

So I gathered up my garden accoutrements, folded away the table-cloth and to Meep’s relief went inside, lighting candles in the conservatory, sinking into the salad of a sofa with my plate of late-night nibbles, and falling in to a book in a way my mind has not allowed me to fall in such a long time. My peace only disturbed by the constant bleep of the phone as Finley updated me on his movements (“We are now in Cactus Ray’s”) and the antics of a demented bat flinging itself at the conservatory window so I had to dive up and slam the door shut in case the poor, bewildered dear felt the urge join me on the salad. 

Hours passed. The book was borderline rubbishly brilliant in the way only supermarket pulp-fiction can be and as I turned over the last page I realised how very late it was and how I had quite forgotten to go to bed and dived up in fright, in case Finley returned home and found all hell had broken loose and Mommy, Dearest was passed out on the sofa in an olive-induced slump. For if I know anything at all about parenting it is that we must do what we always do or else one’s children decide you have gone astray and report your misdemeanours to their second estranged parent who takes it into his head to decide that here is evidence that you have finally lost your mind and must be spoken to in the hushed tones of those speaking to the dangerously deranged as he enquires whether you are quite well and have you considered getting the kind of partner who will keep a full-time eye on you so he doesn’t have to go in for the kind of twice-removed worry that has got his blood pressure raging?

So off to bed I went in a bedroom doing overtime as a sauna. And as sleep would be impossible until Finn returned home, and I couldn’t switch the fan on in case I didn’t hear the rapers and pillagers of the district letting themselves in (Hello Anxiety, my old friend…), I granted myself a while of worry. For allow it to be said, that the kind of worry you permit yourself to wholly indulge in, truly is the best and without the shadow of a doubt, the most wildly gratifying.

I worried about where Finn was now the texts had stopped. I worried about a weird noise (a sort of paper kerfuffle I cannot explain) the state of the nation, and whether the crack behind the bookcase was getting worse. I worried about ever being able to replace all that has recently broke (my beloved Kindle, the hoover, the dishwasher, the washing machine making a weird noise, the car, my head ha ha!) and what I will do next week when the broadband goes off until my new supplier sees fit to install the new supply, and what I will do next year when I have to move out of this house, Oh yes! I worried. I worried real good! 

And then the house shook. And shook again as prodigal son arrived home and thundered up the stairs and then knocked oh so timidly on my bedroom door as if he hadn’t woken the entire neighbourhood up locking the front door and might just disturb the sleep he knows for certain I will never indulge in until he is safe in his bed, if he tapped too loudly, peeking his head through the gap he slowly created and whispering “Hello?” and then barging his way in as I respond, “Hello Baby…” suddenly feeling like all was well in the world and worries are simply the convoluted riot of an over-active imagination and turning the fan on full blast and flicking the torch of my phone on so I could inspect his face as he leaned over to peck my cheek. 

Then there we were. Him lying on the top of the bed next to me, telling me the ins and outs of his night as together we made shadow puppets on the ceiling by the light of my torch. Laughing at the size of my tiny hands in comparison to his, while he told the story of two lovers meeting for the first time in the flick and stretch of his fingers. 

It was stupid late and it didn’t matter. Some nights are not made for sleeping. Some nights are for talking to owls and reassuring cats. For losing yourself so completely in a book you forget where you are and losing yourself so completely in your offspring’s joy because the nights he comes home to share it are numbered now he’s almost twenty and each one must be thus be treasured.

Some nights you see are for puppet shows, because there’s magic in them there shadows. Always.

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