Eyes Wide Open
Pick, pick. A finger finds its way through the much washed fabric of the cover to delve deeply into the yielding guts of the duvet. After two days, its boy smell is encouraging. It offers soft comfort that Blankie can no longer give. Cramped between the wall and bed, Blankie has been discarded - a laundry fresh betrayal.
Damp pyjamas, still warm, hide beneath the privacy of the turned mattress. Alongside lies a holdall, its zippered grin revealing two small pairs of socks and pants, a grey sweater and a much washed t-shirt, ‘Welcome to the Jurassic coast’ still visible above the spiral of an ammonite. Inside its soft folds lurk treasures of other places – other lives: a plastic stegosaurus, a photograph - its myriad of creases aging the smiling face of young woman; a ring, its solitaire eye unblinking in the dark.
Books, carefully chosen, wait to be opened on the shelf. A shelf too high for a small boy to reach except on tiptoe- made in another time for another boy. ‘Welcome!’ says the card balanced on top of ‘Harry Potter’ – but no one is listening.
Shadows shift – phantoms of a childish memory. In this room, the fetid air is not fuggy with sweet smoke and the menace of stale whispered conversation. There is only clean emptiness and always the silence. In a corner, the solitary bed with its cocoon of duvet at last offers sleep.
Eyes wide open. As morning sun creeps tentatively around the edges of the curtain and diffuses through that stubborn chink, boats bob. Muffled morning sounds creep under the door – a voice singing discordantly to Madonna, a dog’s impatient bark. A dog!
The carpet is soft under a small boy’s feet, worn lino a fading memory. Hands reach for ‘Harry Potter’. The card floats down……. ‘Welcome!'
It is picked up and wrapped in the soft folds of the ammonite.