I blink myself awake. Crusted sleep has gathered on my eyelashes and I rub it away irritably, already feeling the familiar tug of annoyance before I’ve even sat up. Pale morning light is filtering through our pink bedroom curtains. A brighter patch of sunlight hits the wooden floorboards beside the bed and under the window where, because our curtains are not really the right size and hang about two feet from the floor, the light can slip by unimpeded.
At the foot of the bed, our aged labrador Alfie senses my awakening in that uncanny ability all dogs seem to possess and stirs. I hear his joints click as he stretches. My wife is still asleep next to me so I sit up gingerly, I want her to get those few extra minutes of sleep.
Alfie, fully awake already and brimming with insuppressible excitement at the new day, as strong now in his twelfth year as it has ever been, clops over to my side of the bed and rests his head on the mattress. I say clops because his claws have gotten too long (They seem to grow faster with each passing year, much like my ear hair!) and tap against the wooden floor as he moves. His tail begins its daily wag quota, smacking against the curtains with a soft thwack, thwack, thwack.
My wife stirs and I sigh inwardly. So much for those last few minutes. It’s hard to be cross with those big brown eyes and earnest expression though so I pat the pooch on the head. ‘Good morning old boy’, it says. The tail wags, the eyes stare. ‘Good morning!’ they say. ‘I’m here! You’re here! The sun is shining! This could just be the best day of our lives yet!’.
And just like that, I feel my irritation lift because I realise suddenly and against all my deep inbuilt natural pessimism, he could just be right!
It has been a long and hard two years. I won’t bore you with the details. No one needs to hear the whinings of a thirty-four-year-old white English man and his first world problems, but surfice to say that overwork and financial difficulties have taken their toll on our little family.
But we are over the worst, have weathered the storm, and can now just possibly start to un-batten the hatches and stick our heads above the parapet.
The hard work is starting, slowly, to pay off and I now find myself in a position to spend the day, and indeed the rest of the week, doing what I love. I picture the laptop, still lying abandoned on the sofa in the next room where I left it last night. I can already see the glowing white page of the word processor, and in my head, the words start to flow.
I lean over and kiss my wife on the forehead. She smiles, eyes still closed, and I think ‘Yes, this might just be the best day yet.’.