Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Bedtime Story (6/9/2017)

As, by the time this goes live, it will almost be my birthday, when I sat down to write, I started thinking about how much I used to look forward to my birthday each year (funny how that can tail off as we get older, isn't it?!).  This story was written with that in mind.

You can also listen to this story as a podcast.

"I'll Be Six At Midnight!"

Charlie tapped his foot and leaned heavily on his bedroom windowsill.  He could see the streetlights outside begin to flicker into life.  It was after eight o'clock and he knew he was supposed to be going to sleep, especially as he had school, tomorrow.  But Charlie had a mission.

Tomorrow was going to be his birthday.  He was going to be six years old.  Somehow, that just sounded a whole lot cooler than being five.

"Six," he said, enjoying the sound of the word.  "Sssssssiiiiiiix."

Being six sounded ever so important.  And so, Charlie wanted to see the very moment that it happened.  He wanted to see the clock strike midnight, so he'd know it was his birthday.

Of course, Charlie knew he could just go to sleep, safe in the knowledge that it would be his birthday when he woke up.  But that didn't sound as exciting.  Charlie wanted to actually see it happen.  He knew that midnight was the end of one day and the beginning of another, so he reasoned that seeing the clock change would mean he'd get to see the very start of his birthday.  The very first second of him being six years old.

Charlie tiptoed to his desk and took a notebook and pen back to bed with him.  There, he practised writing the number six lots of times.  After all, he was going to be writing that number every time he had to write down his age for a whole year!  So, it made sense to be good at it.

Then, he practised writing it as a word, too.  S-I-X.  Over and over in his notebook.

He wondered what being six would feel like.  Maybe he'd feel more grown up.  Perhaps he would suddenly be really good at football, like his big brother, Jake.  Or, maybe he wouldn't be scared of jumping off the highest diving board at the swimming pool, like his older sister, Florence.  Whatever happened, Charlie knew he would definitely feel different.  He had to.  He was going to be six!

Charlie padded back to the desk and put his notebook and pen away.  He climbed back into bed and gave his teddy bear, Mr Truffles, a big squeeze.  He hoped that he wouldn't have to stop having his bear in bed with him when he was six.  After all, Mr Truffles had been with him ever since he was born!

Lying in bed, Charlie watched rockets and planet shapes drift across his ceiling.  His space night-light had been in his room since he was very small, too.  Charlie didn't like the dark, so the soft light, casting patterns onto the ceiling, stayed on all night, every night.  Charlie couldn't sleep, otherwise.

Suddenly, Charlie's eyes widened in horror.  What if he had to get rid of his night-light when he was six, too?!  Charlie's heart began beating faster.  Maybe the light and Mr Truffles would just disappear at midnight?!  Or, maybe he would change and not want them, anymore?!

Charlie swallowed, hard.  He'd been so excited about turning six and being all grown up, that he hadn't even stopped to think about all the reasons he liked being five.  Everyone kept saying how big he was going to be when he was six and the thought suddenly scared him.  What if none of his clothes fit, anymore?!  What if he grew too big for his bed?!

Charlie shook his head.  He didn't want to be six, if it meant changing too much, too soon.  He didn't like the idea of leaving five behind, anymore.

Charlie's digital clock glowed in the dim light.  He could see the numbers changing each minute.  Midnight - twelve o'clock - was getting closer and closer.

He hugged Mr Truffles and squeezed his eyes shut.  "I'm not ready to change," he whispered.  "I'm not ready to be all grown up, yet."

Charlie opened one eye and peered at the clock.  It was 11:59.  Charlie sat bolt upright in bed and stared at it, unable to look away.

And then it happened.  All at once.  So fast, that if he'd blinked, he would have missed it.  12:00.  Midnight.

Charlie took a few, deep breaths, then stared up at the ceiling.  The orange, glowing shapes of rockets and planets were there, just as they always had been.  He quickly glanced down at Mr Truffles, grabbing him to make sure he was still real.  Once he was sure, Charlie jumped out of bed and hurried to his chest of drawers.  He pulled a t-shirt out and tugged it over his head.  It still fit perfectly!  Charlie let out a long, slow sigh of relief.

"I'm the same," he whispered to Mr Truffles, as he climbed back into bed.  "I'm still me."  Then, a smile crossed his lips.  "But I'm six!"

Suddenly, being six was the coolest thing in the world, again.  He was older and it sounded like a much more important number, but nothing else had to change.  Not yet.

Charlie squeezed Mr Truffles tight, then closed his eyes and finally drifted off to sleep, dreaming of birthday cakes and presents.


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