Night was pressing its face against the kitchen window watching Val as she washed the dishes in the sink. It had been a long time since they had eaten dinner but there had been no time for cleaning up afterwards. Val sighed and placed another plate in the drying rack. The house was silent, a strange sensation after all the noise before.
It was the first day back at school tomorrow the new calendar on the notice board declared. The children hadn’t been happy about the early night and the prospect of the coming morning. Val’s ears still echoed at the screams and shouts of the tantrums, the slamming of doors and throwing of books.
Val looked up at the ceiling, her hands wrinkling in the hot water and soap bubbles popping. There was no movement from upstairs now. Before it had sounded like a stampede of elephants. Val wondered if her husband had fallen asleep with their youngest again. Five month old Jay and three year old Zak shared a room and were the hardest of the children to settle to sleep.
Washing their plastic plates and cutlery, reminded Val how she hadn’t want anymore children after Aaron. Three was enough but then Zak had been a bonus blessing and Jay had followed soon after as if God had caught up answering all her past prayers for a baby at once.
Rosie had come first, now aged eleven and taking after Val in everything. Lottie, eight and Aaron, six were glued to each other and always up to mischief. They seemed to have become the twins that Val had miscarried during the second IVF treatment. Though, she’d had Lottie and Aaron naturally.
Unplugging the sink, Val dried her hands and flicked the kettle on. She thought about going upstairs to check on her husband. Sleeping sitting up in the corner wouldn’t do his aching neck any good. Tired and reveling in the quiet, Val made herself an instant gingerbread latte and went to in the living room. It was messy with children’s things and she had to fix the sofa before sitting down.
She wrapped her hands around the hot mug and lent back, shutting her eyes. There was a blessing in this snatched moment of peace and self-care. Before she dozed off, she opened her eyes and put the mug down. Val could have turned on the tv and found something to watch or she could have go on her phone but the stillness was something to be saved and not broken.
Sipping the latte, Val rolled in the quietness and watched the night moving by the un-curtained window.
Thank you for your Christmas card, it was nice to hear all your updates. I shall have to write fully soon but for now here’s a short note. We’re all fine, not much news, only the wedding has been moved to later on this year and the puppy is feeling lots better after the chocolate mishap on Christmas day!
There’s been some heavy snow up here and more is due. Bet it’s not much warmer on the coast but I’d rather walk on sand instead of mud.
Did you hear about Fred? Falling off the roof like that at his age! He’s home and his broken legs are healing well.
Let me know if you hear anymore about Norma. I never got a card off her.
The champagne corks pop. Laughter echoes as white froth pours from large green bottles. A sea of cups lifts to capture the raining champagne, the golden liquid sparkles. The bubbles bead along the thin steamed glasses, bursting as they reach the top.
This is my first page of a new year and I feel almost guilty for spoiling the clean white pages but here we are. Beginnings are always hard. Your head is full of things and you have to decide what to write first. Sometimes it’s the opposite; blank mind. What do you write? Where did all those ideas you had before go?
I think it helps to just stain the page with ink, to get rid of the daunting blankness. Doddle on the edges, write your name, the date, quotes, whatever. Make the page unblank. Then, you can start writing what you need to, knowing the page is already marked so it’s okay to do the task you set out on the lines or the plain space.
I don’t what I’m going to record in this diary yet. I guess important dates of appointments and birthdays. Things I need to remember and things I’d like too. There’s not enough room for a whole account of my day, just notes of what happened. If I want to do so.
The first day of a new year seems sort of empty. People are recovering from all night parties, maybe they might go buy a bargain or go for a long walk. It’s always the first day for diets and other get fit things. I didn’t do any of the above. It was just me and the old dog, Betty, the mixed terrier, watching movies. I guess if the ancient woman I had cared for in the last few months of her life had been still alive Betty would have been asleep on her lap last night instead of mine.
Betty is at the end of my bed as I write this. She’s curled up and snoring. I didn’t really want her on the bed but she was a lap dog, not spoilt, just well cared for because she give a dying woman comfort and made her feel not alone. Betty has been making me feel like that over this second week together. I’ve had cats before, they fitted in better with my job but it’s nice to have dog who stays by your side.
Tomorrow is just going to be another day. Nothing special or filled with much. I have new books to read and a cross stitch to carry on with. The weather is looking mild which suits Betty better for walking. Perhaps, I will make a cake and phone a friend. Do some more self-care and not think for awhile.