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.