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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Hair Dryer

Whilst the OU course has been completed the Weekend Writing Challenges have continued. This was last week's effort, albeit a little rushed, having taken up the challenge of writing about a hair dryer.

This was Rebecca’s week. Her friends. Her family. Whilst Henry loved the idea of a cheap break when the two were courting little had he realised that it was going to turn into an annual pilgrimage, bundling kit and, as the years had passed, kids into the back of his beloved BMW and  traipsing across Europe. There were many of her traits, quirks and habits that he’d fallen in love with instantly, many that he’d grown to enjoy and appreciate and a number that, regardless of how they may seem annoying or frustrating to the outside world, he simply adored. This, however, was not one of them. To make matters worse the girls were even more excitable than their mother.

As the twins were getting older it was clear that they were going to be a handful. Alice and Emily were eight and were becoming more and more inquisitive, more and more aware that this time of year meant one thing. Holiday, snow, skiing and meeting up with all the other kids at the annual get together. For Henry it meant sleepless nights, mind numbing idle chat with superficial yuppies and “old school chums”, feigning a passing interest in strapping two planks of wood to his feet and trying, at all costs, to avoid another four months in plaster like last year. To say that skiing was not Henry’s forte was somewhat of an understatement. He loathed it. But what he did enjoy was a peaceful life and to earn 51 weeks a year of one he was willing to make certain sacrifices.

It had only taken eleven hours of driving time to get from their leafy suburb in Tonbridge to Lausanne, taking out the stops at the regular places and a stolen few hours of sleep at the roadside motel just outside of Reims. Eleven hours, thirty two games of eye-spy and three High School Musical sound tracks to be precise. Henry cursed his loins for their failure to provide a son thus far. As the journey neared its end the green and brown fields faded out into a white, icing sugar dusted carpet, then to a washed out quilt as the snow enveloped everything in sight. Whilst this made the driving treacherous and testing it was, if truth be told, Henry’s favourite part of the week. The car’s passengers silent with more than a little discomfort and unease as the road twisted and slithered upwards leaving Henry to concentrate on the challenge and bond between man and machine. Bliss.

Two days in and Henry was already a broken man. No amount of liquor laden hot chocolates or beer holding steins could prevent it. Two days of listening to how Jenny’s dad was going to ski down the jump tomorrow, how Arthur, who was seven, was already a better skier than daddy, how it was better if mummy took the girls out on the slopes because daddy was too slow. Meanwhile Rebecca’s friends were even worse. How wonderful that Millie and John just built a new five bedroom home from French railway sleepers. How delightful that Arthur’s sister Jemima was in the fast track Olympic skating squad aged twelve. How superb that Aggie could stop working now Charles was in line for the CEO role at Jaguar. Urgh. Henry’s suggestion that Rebecca and the girls could walk home fell on deaf ears like most of his sarcastic acknowledgments and retorts had already.

He couldn’t even grasp a quiet night. The two days, though irritating, were nothing compared to the nights. For some reason Rebecca’s impression of a deep sleep was just convincing enough so that when Alice and Emily awoke, as they invariably did at around 3am on holiday, Henry dared not stir her and instead answered the squeaks and girly giggling himself. He wasn’t convinced by Rebecca’s “Is everything ok?” on his return to  bed either, especially knowing that despite her apparent consciousness now she’d be sounds asleep again in twenty minutes when it all kicked off again. Still, he kept telling himself, it was just one week. Besides, fortunately, this trip was going to be different. This trip was going to change things forever.

It was the third night of the stay and, for once, it was Emily and Alice who’s harmonious slumber was to be disrupted. Emily was the first to awaken. Half asleep still she rolled restlessly onto her side, made curious by the low humming coming from the direction of dresser by the window. Her eyes lids pulled grudgingly apart, heavy from a full day’s play in the bright sun.  A large, blurry figure appeared to be sat on the stool by the dresser and, for some reason, it looked as though it was using their hair dryer. At first almost oblivious to the character Emily grew increasingly alarmed. As her eyes contorted and strained to focus she realised that the figure, silhouetted against the moonlight creeping through the window, had a particularly furry outline. In fact she realised, as her heart began to race and focus sharpened, that it was covered from head to toe in thick, reddy-brown fuzz.

                Emily tried to whisper for her sister but was unable to make a sound, her voice frozen with fear. Instead, as the fuzzy figure continued to tousle and fluff away just feet in front of them, she tossed her pillow over hitting Alice across the back of her head. Alice sat, bolt upright, about to return the missile when she saw that Emily looked like a ghost, her finger to her lips, shaking. Alice didn’t know what to make of things and paused, confused by this unheralded attack. Then, as the stool creaked and groaned they both turned simultaneously to see what was going on. As their gaze moved steadily towards the dresser the low hum from the hair dryer stopped and ebbed away, revealing the shuffling footsteps from beneath its din. Both sets of eyes worked they way up from the knees, across two tree-trunk like thighs, the barrel chest and up to the sunken eyes of the beast in front of them that had made it’s way over between the two beds. Big Foot? Sasquatch? Yeti? Neither cared much what it was, all they knew was that it was, somehow, in their room, and that it seemed huge. As they went to scream it held it’s hands over each of them, silencing them before even a peep could be uttered, and said in a low, gravely tone – “Sleep!”

              Without hesitation both girls lay flat, covering their heads with their quilts, straight as an arrow and still as a rock. Only the undulating sheets showed any signs of life as the groaning floorboards and squeaking door hinge echoed the monster’s exit. The girls didn’t sleep, but they didn’t move an inch until 8am when their alarm went off and they raced through to their parent’s room. Both girls, normally preferring their mum’s cuddles, sprinted across to Henry and grabbed him tight. Neither said a word, just held like two limpets. Despite their best efforts neither Rebecca nor Henry could get a word out of the twins to find out what had caused such unheralded affection. Henry just smiled to himself and, as he made his way down to breakfast with a girl clutching each leg, he kicked an empty, furry foot and mask back beneath the bed. The rest of the week was as peaceful as he could ever have hoped for.

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