It's midweek, evening, after supper. The warm weather has drifted away. Sticky yellow leaves are falling from the lime tree to the lawn, and it's only July. Today I heard that Eldest is unwell in Vietnam; and I can't look after him. His friends are moving on and he will catch up with them later. I decide to go to bed early to read.
Since I got my hands on the Kindle at Easter I've hardly stopped: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves: Karen Joy Fowler; F Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby (plugging gaps); Tim Dowling: The Giles Wareing Haters' Club; my brother's self-published book: Foehammer, Emma Healey: Elizabeth is Missing; Anne Tyler: A Spool of Blue Thread; Jon Ronson: So You've Been Publicly Shamed; Lynn Barber: An Education; David Nicholls: Us; Nick Hornby: Funny Girl and now Sarah Waters: The Paying Guests.
I'm reading The Paying Guests even though neither my friend nor my mother, who have both read it, recommend it. My mother says she found it "too lesbian", which only makes me want to read it more.
I'm in bed, duvet pulled up to my chin, at the bit where Frances is in the garden throwing the dead mouse away (yeah, I get it, it's a rehearsal for the murder) and the creepy lodger is there in the shadows, watching her, when Youngest comes in.
"I can't sleep," he says.
He suffers from insomnia.
"Everyone can't sleep sometimes," I say, "I can't help, I'm afraid. Try NOT to sleep and NOT to think about it and eventually you will sleep. Maybe put your light on and read for a bit."
"I'm too tired to read!" he says, mildy hysterically (can you be mildly hysterical? I say you can).
"Well, try," I say.
He goes away.
Husband comes in. He's been doing his accounts so he's cross.
"I'm trying to email the accountant and your email's not working," he says.
"Why are you using my email?" I say.
"Because mine's not working," he says.
I get up, go to the office, fiddle about with the Mac, decide to quit Mail and start it up again, which works.
"There you go," I say to Husband, "sometimes it does that, it doesn't respond, the hard drive is too full. You have to quit it and start again."
I go back to bed. Youngest is in it.
"What are you doing in my bed?"
"I just thought I'd lie here with you for a bit," he says; and then after a moment, "you're my role model."
"I'm your role model?"
Blimey. The idea of being anyone's role model is terrifying. What do I model? Being miserable and going to bed early? Swearing too much? Being impatient and annoyed pretty much the whole time?
Middle One comes in. "Oh! I thought we could watch Frasier," he says, "but you're reading."
"Yes," I say, "I'm trying to. Sorry, let's watch it tomorrow."
"No," I say, "it's probably under that pile of clothes on your bedroom floor."
"It's not," he says, and he goes away again.
"I still can't sleep!" says Youngest.
"That's because you are in my bed and it's only been ten minutes," I say. "Go back to your own bed and try for longer."
Husband comes in.
"Have you seen my specs?" he says.
"They're probably in the kitchen by the phone," I say. "I need to go down for a drink of water so I'll look."
I go downstairs to the kitchen for a drink of water. His 'specs' are by the phone. I take them upstairs and give them to him, then I go back to bed. Youngest is in it.
"What are you doing in my bed?" I say.
"I just thought I'd lie here with you for a while," he says.
I go up to the next floor to say goodnight to Middle One. He's watching Frasier on his laptop. His school rucksack is on the floor by the door. It's bulging suspiciously.
"Here's your leather jacket," I say, pulling it out.
"Oh thanks!" he says.
I go back to my room. Youngest is asleep in the bed, on my side. I get in next to him, open the Kindle, find where I was, then close it again and turn out the light.
Love E x