Normally, mum and I are both early risers. Mum says she wakes up early because she drinks too much coffee and it makes her sleep badly. She says I wake up early because I’m a kid, and kids just wake up earlier. That’ll all start to change according to her, when I’m a teenager. But right now, I love mornings.
My bedroom used to be an attic but mum’s having it converted, bit by bit. I LOVE my attic room. It’s got a little windy staircase with a bookcase built in, and great, sloping ceilings. The best part about it though is the skylight right above my bed. In the morning, light pours in through it and fills every inch of the room, and I can feel the sunbeams on my skin. Sometimes, I keep my eyes closed and point my face up towards the skylight, and pretend I’m sunbathing on a beach in Spain or Greece or somewhere hot like that.
I don’t mind if it’s rainy though either. The pitter-patter sound reminds me of holidays when I was little, back when dad was still living with us. Dad had a caravan and we’d sometimes go to Wales for the weekend. People make fun of Wales because it’s rainy and there’s not much to do there, but it was in Wales that I first realised how great stars were. It was a clear night and, because we were in the countryside and there weren’t any streetlights or shops or houses, the only light we could see was starlight. One night, when there was no rain, mum and dad and I sat outside the caravan in our camping chairs, drinking tea from our little tin camping mugs and looking up at the sky. There were stars EVERYWHERE! Dad tried to get me to count them but I kept losing track, and some of them seemed to twinkle in and out of view. Dad pointed out the Plough and Orion and the North Star, and that’s when I realised how amazing space was. Then it did start to rain, but it didn’t matter, because we just went inside, got tucked up in our sleeping bags and listened to the pitter-patter on the caravan roof until we fell asleep. Rain on the skylight makes me happy, because it sounds just like that. And sometimes, on clear nights, I can see one or two stars through it too.
But this morning, things were different. I only woke up because mum came in with a cup of tea and gave me a little shake. Even then I felt dead groggy, as though my brain was taking a while to switch on. Mum had her big morning mug in her hand and was frowning a lot, the way she sometimes does before she’s finished her first coffee.
“Are you feeling ok, Star? I’m sorry to wake you love, I don’t think you’ve ever slept until 9am before in your life! I was starting to get worried!”
She sat down on my bed next to me and pressed her hand to my forehead, which was weird for mum. She’s not normally a fussy person.
“I’m fine mum. I just feel a bit sleepy, that’s all. Are you sure it’s 9am?!”
I dragged myself up into a sitting position and tried a sip of tea, but every atom of my body was telling me to lie back down.
“Oh God, Star I’m worried, you look like you’ve got a hangover! I knew this memory thing was a terrible idea. I barely slept all night thinking about what a terrible mother I am for letting you go through that. Let’s go to the doctor today shall we, the normal doctor? To make sure you’re ok?”
She put her hand back on my forehead and I was worried she was going to cry, so even though I still felt groggy I tried to be the brave one.
“Honestly mum, don’t worry. It’s fine. I’m fine! I think I’m just groggy because of the competition. Miss Honeybone said gymnasts usually feel sick or tired after a big competition, because all the adrenaline goes away. It’s probably that mum, really. We don’t need to go to the doctors! Anyway, it’s Sunday. Doctors don’t work on Sundays.”
Mum smiled a tiny smile and her forehead unwrinkled when I reminded her about the competition. Anyone would think it was her memory that had been taken.
“Sometimes I think you should be the parent and I should be the child! I completely forgot the doctors are closed on Sundays. But are you sure you’re okay, Star? Honestly? I’ve just been lying in bed, staring at the ceiling thinking ‘my daughter’s never going to forgive me’!”
“Mum, don’t be ridiculous. I’m fine, and it was a great idea.” I gave her a little hug, half to make her feel better and half to make her stop being so serious.
“Well listen, if you really are feeling ok, I wanted to suggest something to you. Let’s spend the money on something fun and exciting, hey? Let’s not just put it away for bills or rent or save it or anything like that. This was a strange and one-off opportunity and you did all the work. Let’s spend it on having a brilliant day together – whatever you want to do and we’ll do it. Let me be the one who worries about making money for rent and bills. This money can be fun money. What do you think?”
I couldn’t quite believe what she was suggesting. Mum was the woman who insisted on going to three different supermarkets because one sold cheaper vegetables, one sold cheaper tins and one had good offers on toiletries. Mum was the woman who thought taxis were for snobs, and who only bought clothes in charity shops. Now she wanted to spend £500 on whatever I wanted. In one day. Sometimes, we spent less than that in a month. All of that fuss with Mr Silk, just to fritter it away on nothing.
“Well?” She was looking impatient, eager to make sure I was happy with things. “Mum and Star’s magical, once in a lifetime, never to be repeated day of fun. What do you say?”
It hadn’t been for nothing, I realised. Not really. It had been for charity. I grinned.
“I say we need a catchier name for it. But other than that, let’s go!”