In front of me stands a red stool. It is made of plastic. In the centre of it is a barcode and a label. From where I sit the letters are too tiny for me to read.
There's a disqueiting sound. I'm not sure whether it's Mick crying in the background or the timbre of the music playing through my laptop. I pause my gently descending tune for a moment to double check. The house is silent. Every time the tune descends again the ambiguous sound makes me click, pause, listen - what if Mick is crying again? He's been crying a lot for the last two weeks. Polly, The Nursery and myself all think he is incubating Chicken Pox. He doesn't seem to have the strength to climb onto the sofa at the moment and he cries a lot.
Crying a lot is a new concept for Polly and I. We always thought that crying a lot meant crying for about 5 minutes.
Mick has been teaching us that crying a lot means crying untl you want to shake him. Crying a lot means crying until you shout "For fuck's sake Mick, stop fucking crying." Crying a lot means crying until you sit at the kitchen table with your head in your hands thinking "I'd walk out now if I only had somewhere to go." Crying a lot means crying until you call home from work to find out if the visit to the doctors went ok, and by ok you mean hoping like mad that something is wrong with your child, because if he's crying like that for no reason then your life is fucked.
The stool has four legs, but I can only see three of them, as the fourth, closest to me on the right hand side is obscured by the laptop that I'm typing on. A thin line of light reflects off the front edge of the stool which is standing at a slight angle to the perfect right angle that myself and the sofa are colluding on at the moment.
I am slightly irritated by the stool as it should really be upstairs. I don't understand what it is doing in here. It is often turned upside down by Mick, who pushes it across the floor then stops and leans into the middle of it - I am always suprised at how much he loves doing this despite the fact that there is a hard, thin ridge that runs in a diagonal x across the underside of the stool.
As I drove home this evening in my Hyundai atoz, the worst car in the history of cars bar none, I absent mindedly pulled into the outside lane and started overtaking a Nissan Micra on a hill. It was only as I was halfway up the hill that I switched from autopilot to fully aware manual appreciation of the idiotic situation I had gotten myself into.
The atoz is an extremely low powered 998cc engine. It has no acceleration and copes badly with bends and bumps. It is a deathtrap.
Accompanying me up the hill on my left was the Nissan Micra that I was overtaking. The only trouble was that the road was running out and there was no-way on earth that I was going to get past the Micra.
I did the only thing that I could have possibly done, I floored the atoz and carried on overtaking. As I started bumping away on the diagonal hatching with absolutely no intention of entering an adjoining premises or a side road, I thought - "Maybe I shouldn't have tried overtaking that Micra on a hill, this is getting a bit hairy. There isn't actually much room between the Micra and the car in front of it, oh what a terrible mistake, what a pathetic man I am, i am so, so sorry about what I am doing here, but how can I ever signal to the Micra that I am so sorry about my stupid behaviour?"
Eventually the Atoz stumbled it's way past the Micra and I managed to slot myself into the left hand lane just before slamming head first into an oncoming John Deere.
I checked my mirror to see if the Micra had noticed my idiocy, or if I was just being a paranoid twit. The driver of the Micra was shaking his head from side to side in disgust at my stupid driving.
I really wanted to let the Micra driver know how contrite I was feeling, so I did the only thing I could think of, which was to raise my fist in a kind of "YES, I WON AND FURTHERMORE FUCK YOU - HITLER" salute between the seats of my tiny little car.
I am 35 years old.
This morning, at 6:30 there was a tremendous crashing sound from the darkness of Elly and Mick's bedroom. I instantly assumed that it was Mick falling out of his cot. The crashing continued down the hall until I heard the loud splat of four squat plastic legs hitting the lino in the bathroom, followed by a scraping sound as it was kicked into place, followed by the triggerclick of the bathroom light pull being yanked, and a subsequent change in ambience. I lay in my bed and I stared at the ceiling and felt something.
I mistook it for sadness, as I do most times that Elly demonstrates independence.
This morning, Elly worked out that if she carries the stool through to the bathroom she doesn't have to sit in the dark to have a wee any more.
It's frightening that there's one less thing she needs me to do for her - just a steady decline from now until she buys her first anti establishment t-shirt.
Later on I'll carry the stool back upstairs and leave it in Elly's bedroom. It won't be difficult to carry as it can be lifted in my left hand. It weighs very little.