Bored games

Fred 2

The dog woke me this morning at seven with a bark, an old dog’s querulous protest at some passing shadow. The tan and white pup, a now-grizzled blend of spaniel, pug and papillon, is deaf and almost blind. Yet somehow the dog senses when his universe has been disturbed. Somewhere in our street something had moved.

Since coming to this house, where the dog’s fee to roam from back yard to front, he sleeps in the laundry overnight. We’ve muzzled his guard dog instincts, preferring undisturbed sleep and good terms with our neighbours.

So I woke with a start this morning, puzzled by the barking and The Husband still sleeping beside me. Sunlight poured through gaps in the shutters, dust particles dancing in its beams, my dreams dimpled by electroporation. It’s late winter, but already the sun slides above the horizon long before I’m ready to rise. Even so, it felt particularly late this morning and alarm took hold as my mind struggled to grapple with a barking dog and sleeping bedfellow.

Eventually the calendar clicked in. I realised it was Saturday, and the first morning in weeks when I’ve woken with no commitments. The panic gave way to relief and I revelled in a few extra moments under the covers. Lately, emails and texts and voice messages have showered my schedule with things to do, screaming at me with imperatives and deadlines and exclamation points. I’ve absorbed their authors’ stress like a blanket bog soaks up rain and I needed to stop. Even The Husband, who’s been living his life in seven-minute increments as he prepares for a national meeting, indulged in a lie-in.

Not so The Ballerina. She’d been up since six, making a start on an English oral due this week. She’d tiptoed downstairs to let the dog out of his laundry prison, then returned to her room to pull apart a poem, deciphering its couplets and muted metaphors before heading across town for three hours of dance. She arrived 30 minutes late because the timetable had changed and I hadn’t read the email. Too many emails. Too many schedules.

While she danced The Husband sat at the dining table with a coffee and a pile of papers, scribbling notes and tapping at his laptop, repurposing some past work. And I floated about doing nothing much. I scrubbed my skin and clipped my finger nails, rifled through the bottom draw for duty-free relics, unearthing a face mask to wear while doing laundry.

Later, the Socialite padded barefoot downstairs, dull, listless. She coughed and sniffled and rubbed her eyes, then crawled under a blanket with the TV remote and a tissue box. I put my cool hands on her forehead and gave her Panadol and a cup of tea. She slept again, restless.

And so the day passed, unremarkable but for a visit to a department store. The Ballerina tried on a half dozen pairs of jeans, rejecting them all with tears and self-loathing, before a tactful sales assistant steered us to some which flatter athletic legs. I bought them, relieved. My baby didn’t notice the offensive labelling, but I did and vented my displeasure with the designer. (I may have gilded the lily to make my point.)

The Husband is out of town now, stuck in a hotel room or a conference hall, making small talk with colleagues and lobbying for votes in an imminent Board election. Because he’s just not busy enough. Or satisfied. Something like that. In any event, for a few days I have free reign with television program selection and more time to write. I’ll miss him but…


Today’s challenge was to spice up a boring recount with randomly selected vocab. I closed my eyes and stabbed a pencil at my dictionary, landing on: 1. blanket bog; 2. electroporation; and 3. late. Ta da! They’re in (although number two is a stretch).


Angela Bensted Bw 1x1
Angela Bensted is a Brisbane-based freelance writer who likes to listen first and struggle with syntax later. She pitches stories to magazines and helps businesses produce compelling copy for print and online.
Connect with me: