Watching the black of 4 AM turn to indigo, I can’t quite believe I’m awake. I can see the shadow of the trees through the curtains. Morning light is far too early this time of year. My eyes itch and ache. It must have been the thought of the light that woke me, the thought of the birds squawking, the cockerel crowing next door but one. My sleeping anticipated it all and unconsciously decided, ‘hey, why not wake up RIGHT NOW?’ Thanks, body. It’s fine. It’s not like I have an exam or anything important to do today. Oh, wait. I do.
If I were the right sort of daughter – the self-motivated type, the sort parents brag about – I’d be getting my biology textbook out in bed right now. I’d think, hey, I’m up already – why not do some last minute revision? After all, Dad said over dinner last night that he’d read some study about the benefits of last minute cramming. But that was typical Dad, spouting crap from the broadsheets, thinking that had more power than just your nog-standard usual nagging. He thinks of me like a broken bicycle, in need of a good push and a kick to get in gear and climb that final hill.
Well, I’m not a bicycle. And I won’t be pushed.
And I said as much.
I felt sort of bad about it. After all, Mum had cooked her speciality – turkey mince lasagne (sounds sort of weird, but its delicious, trust me). I’m that weird sort of kid who genuinely enjoys sitting down to dinner with the parents, and I killed the entire evening.
Still, I didn’t feel guilty enough to revise Biology.
I decide to take Aristotle for a walk instead. He’ll appreciate the fresh air of early morning, the pavement still cool beneath his little paws. Mum said this latest heatwave might actually kill him. He’s pretty old, but I still hope she’s joking. She groomed his coat yesterday, rolling him over on his belly for a good trim of his excess clouds of black fluff. Poor Aristotle. He gets so hot and miserable.
‘You coming, boy?’ I whisper through to the kitchen. He scampers out of bed, skidding on the tiles. He doesn’t care that it’s 4:30AM: he’s still happy to see me. He nibbles at my PJs as I pull my wellies on. No socks. Don’t care. We won’t go far.
I slip on Aristotle’s lead and he pulls me to the end of the crescent, then up the familiar snicket towards the water. The air smells of impending summer. Full of promise.