My First Insomnia

Strange, isn’t it, how memories stick with you, and how seemingly innocuous moments can trigger those memories?

I was watching a film last night, and for reasons I can’t fathom, my mind wandered back to a moment from my childhood. It’s not the first time it’s strolled back to that particular event, and it won’t be the last, though it seemed a little more palpable than before. I flushed red even.

And it wasn’t an embarrassing recollection, it was a rather pleasant one, that filled me with warmth.

I remember holding my Dad’s hand, when I was about four or five, having him walk me through a shop my Mum used to work in. We weren’t there to pick her up, and he lead me into a back room that I didn’t know existed. I don’t think it was the store room, I think it was another part of the shop that I’d never noticed before.

He stopped and pointed at something on the floor.

It was a toy.

A moonbase scene, quite big, with all silver rockscapes and landing pads, and it was part of a range for which I owned one or two spaceships.

“Would you like that?” he asked.

I looked at it, and wanted it, and was really happy that it might soon be mine.

But for some reason I replied, “I don’t think so, no.”

I don’t know why I said that, and I don’t really remember how my Dad reacted. Off we toddled, and later that evening, I experienced my first bout of insomnia. And like all the thousands of sleepless nights that followed, my sleep was mostly interrupted by feelings of regret, combined with an over-analysis of the day’s events, as well as rehearsing imagined events to come.

It got to the point where I was so restless that I had to get up and go down stairs. Opening the front room door, bleary-eyed and blinking against the bright light, I saw my Dad sitting on the sofa watching TV. He looked at me, somewhat concerned about my appearance in the doorway this late at night (it was at least 9pm).

“I’ve been thinking,” I squeaked. “I would like that toy after all.”

He flashed me a benign little smile, and suggested I go back to bed, assuring me that he would get it in the morning.

I slept soundly after that, and awoke, excited. I rushed downstairs, and found my Dad stood behind the breakfast bar, looking sad.

“Did you get it?” I asked, bouncing on the spot.

“No, sorry,” he sighed. “Someone else had already bought it.”

My little heart sank, and I mumbled something about it being okay. He smiled, a big grin, and pulled out the toy from under the breakfast bar.

I still love him for that moment.

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