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9 January 2021

I’m woken up by a repetitive whine making a delayed echo as it’s emitted from the baby monitor a fraction of a second later than its real-life origin through the wall.


It seeps into the last of my dream as it washes away from around my feet. I’d been sitting on a steep stony beach my subconscious created out of leftover bits of Brighton, Portsmouth, and Sandringham in the Melbourne suburbs.


In my dream, I’d been waiting somewhere like Melbourne (or perhaps Leeds) with G’s cousin (from Portsmouth) for an Australian ex boyfriend to turn up, for some reason. He’s late and unreliable and like a cartoon backpacker version of himself. Maybe that was the real him anyway? He’s late to babysit for me so I can get to my job at the card shop I spent too much time working shifts at when I was at uni.


We work hard to close the shop but there’s a violently stormy gale blowing, stopping us from shutting the door. The wind suddenly and dramatically dies down as everything in the shop - including me - drops down to the ground. I rush out to get to the beach to collect my baby via a police station I get taken to (something to do with wealthy dog-walkers being involved with an underground criminal network). I slide down the steep stony dunes of the beach and have to brush a lot of sand out of my son’s hair and eyes and mouth. He makes that repetitive whine of his, and it starts coming out of the monitor next to my ear on the bedside table again.


“Do you want a lie in this morning?”


I could do with some time to process my dream, if I’m honest.


“Mmm that would be lovely, thanks love. I won’t sleep in long. Then we’ll go get the click and collect.”


“Did you sleep ok?”


I know what that question means. I quickly try to remember if anything disturbed my sleep in the night and picture my husband fiddling with his phone, choosing a second radio programme to listen to - something he only does if our first choice of comedy from BBC Sounds failed to put us both to sleep. Probably not the most relaxing week to nod off to The News Quiz though, so I can’t blame him.


“Did you not, then? I think I remember you putting the radio back on...”


“No... I’ll be ok...”


“Do YOU want the lie in?”


“And you have one tomorrow instead?”


The rhythmic, repetitive whining from the room next door crescendos. He can hear our negotiations and takes advantage.


“Mama. Up now.”


I’ll have my lie in tomorrow.


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©2019 by Lauren Stranks