4 A.M.

This is the third night in a row that Freddie has woken up in the small hours crying, refusing to be comforted and, uncharacteristically, wanting to get into mummy and daddy’s bed. I’ve tried all the usual things, including taking him to the toilet incase that’s what has woken him up, but, sleepy, he hasn’t recognised the feeling. Each time his pull-up has been already wet, and tonight he’s sitting on the loo absolutely howling, saying something that sounds like ‘really, really hurts.’ Water infection? Unusual in boys. He’s already snuffling with yet another snotty respiratory tract infection, and I’ve noticed a new cold sore at the edge of his nostril. He’s been grumpy for days and by evening is more than ready for his bed. Is he ‘run down’, immunity low?

I finally succeed in getting him settled and crawl back to my own room, but I don’t go to sleep. Instead I start adding two and two, and then two more, getting ten, fifteen, twenty-one; hoping that, in the dark, I’m getting all my sums wrong. Shadows start to rear up in the corners of the room. L-shaped shadows of the word we do not say. There are monsters under the bed tonight.


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