Your bed knows more about you than you do. It's there for you in those sleep driven moments and it's all you can think of as your eyes begin to slip shut. It's the place that you rely on to let you have the next day and it's the place that you'll invite someone to make the next generation. It's one of my secret places, just me and the stories told in the bed.
But, when you're ill, it becomes a communal meeting place like a watering hole in the Serengeti as food, flannels, blankets and packets of pills are funneled to you from every which direction. Suddenly, no matter how clean the sheets, your bed is infected and is the very description of 'sickness'. Well, at least, that's how my bed became.
"Sweetie...honey, come on. That's it. Open...open, there you go!"
"Mum, what are you doing?" I mumbled through the gap in my teeth where I couldn't find a thermometer.
"Shhh, darling. No harm done. No harm done."
"Uh, mum. Stop. What's going on?"
I went to raise myself up and then I remembered. The school dance.
"Careful, careful. We don't want an injury," then she caught herself short and laughed. "Well, dare I say another injury."
"Mmmm," I fumbled for the thermometer and removed it from my mouth with a heavy fist. "Mum, please. I'm fine," I lied because the thumping in my head called for more than two tablets of aspirin.
"Oh yes, I'm quite sure you are, love. But, just to be on the safe side. Now," she leaned over the chair where she was sitting to pull up a tray of fruit juice and toast. "Mark made this for you, eat up!" she clapped.
Ah, Mark. Where to start? Ok, well, since dad died, mum's been through a string of 'boyfriends' - although she hates me to call them that because it makes her sound like a obsessed teenage tart, so I've got to call them 'partners'. But, essentially, Mark's a boyfriend. And one of the worst boyfriends that mum could have chosen.
My dad was my idol. He was one of these free thinkers and inventors and adventure seekers. Save for the beard, hairy chest and broad shoulders, he was everything that I aspired to be when I was younger.
Mum was in the car that dad hit. It was an accident, I know that it was an accident because dad didn't want to kill mum. He didn't want to kill anyone, least not himself. He loved his life too much! And, I'm not the one to say that the wrong person died, but the wrong person died, simply because I know dad would have been able to pick up the pieces.
Mum's been going crazy since dad left. Because she insists that that's what he did.
"He didn't want to be with us anymore, Gen," she tells me and suggests that he's gallivanting somewhere in Alaska, looking for gold. She tells me not to talk about him.
I wish she could hear how she sounds.
She had to get Mark to make things better. He was her therapist and now, three years on, he's her boyfriend. Weird turn of even, huh? But I don't think that it's that simple.
Why? Because his wife kicked him out. He would have been homeless if he hadn't come to sleep in our house every night since then. I know that mum probably needs someone twenty-four seven but I just don't think that it can be me, so I don't complain. Publicly.
Mum left the room. I crunched into the toast which was charcoal from over-cooking and limp from the wet plate that it had been sat on all morning. Mark couldn't do anything. But I had to give him credit for skipping the marmalade.