The night before the grand final. I couldn’t sleep. I was nervous, excited. So was Gary by the sounds of it. I could hear him tossing around in his bed; mine didn’t seem too comfortable either tonight. The sheets and blankets were all messed up.
I tried counting sheep. One sheep. Two sheep. The third sheep was tall and black, it had Dumby’s face. I stopped counting sheep.
I needed something. Something to help me sleep. Maybe mum would give me some of her pills. The little white ones she bought from Chung.
I got out of bed and tip-toed along the corridor. The bathroom door was closed, but I could see light seeping under the door. Then I heard a soft splash. Mum was having a bath, getting some of her beloved peace and quiet. I looked out the window. The old man’s car wasn’t there. It was late, probably past midnight, but Mum would stay up until he came home, so she could serve him his dinner. She always did this.
‘Mum,’ I said
‘It’s me, Mum, Tim. I can’t sleep. Can I have one of your little pills?’
‘Looks like you need a good backhand to put you to sleep.’
‘Go back to bed boy, before I beat you.’
‘Talking back eh? Show some respect you scallywag.
And with that Mum gave me a taste of the back of her hand. It was salty, like the taste of my tears after they started pouring down my cheek. I ran out of the room and into the kitchen.
I put the pot on the stove, covered it with milk, and turned on the element. Then I put a teaspoon of Milo and two teaspoons of sugar into a bottle. The pot didn’t take long to boil. I filled the bottle and gave it a good stir. I took it into the lounge room and switched on the light. All Gary’s trophies stopped what they were doing and stared at me. What’s he doing here at this time of night?
There were hardly any books in our house. Mum always took her S&Ms back to the library, to swap for more, and the old man only ever read the form guide. But we did have...