It's 6am, and there is a noise coming from the bathroom, a pipe gasping for air as the tap that has been on for the last 8 minutes continues to run, someone is banging on the door to be let in ,screaming “I need to pee!”
The back door has slammed a total of 14 times in the last 3 minutes as I feel the edge of my bed dip slightly as the weight of a small child crawls silently towards me , the movement stops as a small hand rests on my shoulder.
“Mummy, I'm hungry , I need toast , I'm starved.”
Jerry, my youngest son’s face hovers an inch above mine smiling, his breath is truly awful as he leans closer still and starts to blink rapidly, his long black lashes softly brushing against my nose.
“I kissed you Mummy, I gived you a moths kiss” and leaps off the bed yelling “mummy's awake mars! you're gonna get it.”
I get up, look around and can only find one slipper, my bedroom floor is splattered with odd smelly socks, a backpack that smells a bit like rotten banana, pants that have been dropped directly as they stood with the underpants still inside.
I need more sleep, the days rob me of all my energy and the nights never truly compensate.
As I head towards the kitchen through the hallway I have to step over a collection of toys, bags, a cricket bat, basketball gear and the kitty litter tray, which once again has not been cleaned as promised.
Jerry is sitting at the table expectedly, Mars has his head in the fridge and is chewing on something, Cece's head is hidden behind a book, and Lucy is nowhere to be seen.
“Mars that better not be chocolate in your mouth, Jeremiah pants on at the table, good morning Cecelia , is Lucy up yet ?”
“It's CECE mum and I how would I know? I'm not her mother” Cece says poutily.
I slump my shoulders and give her a sad clown face, quietly starting to hum.
Her eyes burn with a deep hatred as she lowers her book and she stares directly at me.
Humming a little louder, I start to bop.
“Cecilia you're breaking my heart,
You're shaking my confidence daily.....”
“God mum you are so lame.”
Jerry is now standing on his chair, still sans pants. Bopping to my song, squealing.
“Mummy sing my song now, I'm on a rainbow, Im a frog and the fishes and all the happy”
“I can't buddy, I can’t sing to you when you are nude.”
He snort laughs again and puts both hands on his bum.
“Look at my doodleloo, mummy”
“Er, no thanks, pants now or no toast”.
“LUCY! GET UP, you'll be late.”
Jerry runs off, searching for pants and Mars sits on a chair, he has his matching pyjamas on, dressing gown neatly tied at the waist and socks with his slippers.
He looks at me thoughtfully and smiles.
“Could I please have a tea mum?”
“Of course, Starman. Just let me wake up Lucy.”
Lucy's room is how you might imagine a wild witches room would look, there are bottles filled with coloured liquids with lumps, scarves, twigs and dried flowers, candles and books on every surface.
The bed is a lump of blankets, pillows and soft toys, and buried inside it is my oldest daughter Lucy. My diamond in the rough.
Lucy is never awake in time, never dressed in time and never really completes a single task.
“C’mon Lucy please get up , Cece has assembly and I need to be at school earlier today, to do a lunch order, Jerry fed Peanut (the guinea pig) all the bread for sandwiches.”
“Uggghhhh ok , but I don't see the point, we will all be dead soon because the Ozone layer is gone.”
“Yeah sorry bout that , but we still need to hurry.”
Back in the kitchen, I have the toaster full and the kettle boiled by the time Lucy and Jerry; now sporting a pair of Santa tights, are seated and waiting for breakfast.
It's 7.30 and we are running against the clock , Cece is still in the shower, Mars needs to get in and there's no hope of Jerry or Lucy getting a shower in before school.
I gave up years ago thinking I could shower in the morning, a fantasy long forgotten.
Everyone is finally fed, the dishes thrown in the sink, kids are scrambling to find shoes, school bags, notes that need to be signed, scribbled out homework, hairbrushes and matching socks.
The kitten stares in disapproval and hunger. Cece hasn't filled her bowl, I throw some toast scraps into the empty dish and apologise as I push the chairs in from around the table, grabbing keys and coat.
Jerry comes screaming around the corner and knocks the hall table. An avalanche of papers, books and bills scatter across the floor.
“Sorry mummy!” he runs toward the car.
Lucy stomps out and yells “I'm in the front!”
Cece and Lucy are arguing over whose turn it is in the front as Mars calmly gets in and buckles his seatbelt. Jerry is standing on the hood of the car trying to climb on the roof of the house.
“Jeremiah get in the car and put your seat belt on now, or I'm calling the police.”
“Cece. Lucy. It’s actually Mars's turn in the front.
Now get in, we have to go!”
It's 6am and the house is still. From outside, I can hear the muted sound of the wind chime that Cecelia brought back from Thailand many years ago.
I lay in bed; now an expanse of space, no morning visits from a pant-less, giggling child.
I swing my legs out and slip my feet into my slippers. They’re placed neatly by the bed.
I walk to the kitchen through the hallway. The cat is curled up on a miniature red velvet chaise lounge that Mars sent as a gift last Christmas. She purrs contentedly.
In the kitchen I put the kettle on and stare at the too-neat table, chairs all pushed in,
expectantly waiting once more for company.
There's no assemblies to rush to, no notes to be signed, no one needing a wake up call.
There is only the echo of sounds that once filled the house–, the squeals and the sighs.
And no one left to hear them except me.