Hair tousled from our pillows,
dressing gown ties around our waists,
sleep in our eyes.
She’d have it all laid out,
two dippy eggs with crustless soldiers,
two half filled mugs of tea
and a pack of Rich Tea fingers.
We’d dip soldiers into eggs
and dunk biscuits into tea,
yellow yoke oranging
at the corners of our mouths,
pale crumbs sprinkling the table.
thin and suspended in the mug,
one second too long.
A leap across the kitchen,
a clink on the table,
an emergency spoon.
Mum says I’d writhe around in the bath,
splashing water over the sides,
talking to the taps,
fashioning a shell bra from the sponge.
Dad was my favourite for bedtime,
I’d lift my arms as he pulled up the covers,
tucking them tight around my legs,
leaving the bottom to spread out,
wishing me the sweetest dreams.
I wouldn’t move a muscle,
too scared I’d lose my tail,
eyes closed and mind open,
sinking deep into the sea.
They had a radio by the bath, suckered to the wall. It was shaped like a bright blue and yellow tropical fish.
Grandma would sit by us as we splished and splashed in the lukewarm water, Grandpa would be in the kitchen, waiting.
On the fish there was a bright red round button. When you pressed it, the fish started to wail. This, along with our screeching giggles and cries for help, was the signal.
He’d come running, a cup of water in each hand, shouting ‘NEE NAW, NEE NAW,’ at the top of his lungs.
He’d skid round the corner of the bathroom to the bath, water struggling to stay in the cups, gasping as he saw his granddaughters in the thick of the invisible flames.
With one almighty hurl, he’d throw the ice cold water over each of our heads and we’d scream before flinging our arms up in the air with the elation of being saved.
We’d chant ‘again, again!’
The game would repeat again and again.
There’s still a bright blue and yellow tropical fish radio by the bath, but it’s bright red round button hasn’t been pressed in years.
Even if we did press it, no one would come running.