Day 270 – Folie a Deux – Part 15

Word count: 765

Thomas was curled up in James’ arms, fast asleep before the bed-time story had finished. It was an end to an exhausting weekend. Tomorrow Thomas would be back at school for his final week before the summer holidays. How odd it was for him to be growing up so fast?

James was lying on top of his son’s bed, Thomas the Tank Engine now lying discarded on the floor. He was sleepy himself, even though it was only half past seven. Miranda was busy downstairs cooking them a fantastic meal – James was not sure if he could cope to eat it all. Miranda always did this – it was argument healing therapy or something. Every day after a massive argument, she would enter the kitchen and not leave it for hours until the most magnificent dishes were cooked to perfection. She was an amazing cook, James had to grant her that, and he missed her meals so much when he was away. But he was back for a long while now – he could rest, take it easy. Being away from home all the time, he missed the joys of simply falling asleep with his son on his chest reading some simple story of a train being upset by what its carriages had said.

It was always the case after he had returned home from being away for months. The idea of being at home would start to grip him; the simple things seemed now a luxury compared to the fine dining of hotel rooms, expensive airlines and having absolutely anything he wanted. He’d made a conscious decision this time around to take at least six months off. Last night’s conversation with Jonny may have changed the plans slightly, however.

Jonny was always the one pushing for the next great thing. He was the one who would put in the hours and keep the focus on the next big thing. It wasn’t the money that drove him at all – it was the idea of creating something, something different, unique. James couldn’t argue with him. He loved doing it to: but Jonny didn’t have a family to look after. There was just a fiancé, who was more than capable of looking after herself.

Last night Jonny had been quite forceful, even irritating. They had just gotten back from four months away. It had been awful – simply awful – to be that far away from his family for that length of time. James was missing the best part of his children’s lives when he was away and all he wanted to do when he was sitting trying to fall asleep in a hotel room somewhere on the other side of the planet was sit by his children’s beds and watch them sleep like angels.

“James, half an hour!” Miranda called up the stairs. Dinner would be ready soon.

James’ eyes were growing heavier by the second, he wasn’t sure if he could last until dinner. The jet lag and exhaustion were finally hitting him it seemed, though usually it hit him well before now. He could close his eyes, perhaps only for a few minutes and it would be all right. She would probably come up anyway to find him.

His eyes closed and placid darkness swept over him like a gentle tide. His breath slowed and his heart rate paced serenely in his chest. He could hear only the noise of his son’s breath. The darkness seemed to entrance him and he felt himself being drawn towards the centre of some strange spiral that he could not see. Waking up was not an option now: he had passed the point of no return. Tiredness had never before consumed him like this. It was almost as if his brain were shutting down on him.

Strangely he heard scratching noises. In his ear, like a cat digging its claws into fabric furniture. The noises were quite, clean and continuous. They were coming from all around him. There was no pattern to them, just random. It went silent for a few moments. Someone’s breath; a calm steady breath. The scratching continued.

James felt a prodding in his shoulder. Again. And again. His eyes suddenly relinquished him and his blurry eyes were thrown open to the sight of Miranda staring down at him with bitter anger being bit back by her lips.

“Wha, dinner?” he said, tiredly.

“Sixteen hours ago,” she said, resting her hands on her hips matter-of-factly.

“What? That’s impossible?”

But he looked to his side. Thomas was no longer there and a grey daylight was streaming in through the curtains.

~ by S.G. Mark on July 3, 2012.

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