Daniel yawned and rolled over, beating the clock to silence it’s alarm. Sagging back into the pillows for a moment, he rubbed at tired eyes before moving to shake his wife awake.
“Time to get up,” he told her, “Come on, the boy’ll be up soon.” She grunted and shifted position. Eventually, they both climbed out of bed and began to trudge through the routine of getting ready for the day. By the time they got into the living room Joshua was there, eating breakfast and watching cartoons. Marina raised an eyebrow at Daniel.
“Up first as always” she observed “and he still isn’t tired.” Daniel snorted, ignoring her as he sat down to gulp his coffee.
“I have to get to work.” he snarled once the last spoonful of cereal had been scooped out of the bowl. He hauled himself to his feet, scrubbed his hand through Joshua’s hair as he passed, and left the room. Marina scowled for a
moment at the space where he had been, before looking back at her son, who was looking at her.
“Still tired, Mum?” he asked sympathetically.
“Yeah, I’m still tired and I don’t understand why you aren’t.” She snapped, looking away. “There definitely seems to be some sort of link” she murmured and the boy wrinkled his nose.
“What’re you on about?” He sighed, turning back to the television.
“Probably nothing Darling” she smiled brittley “I just worry about you, that’s all. Now, I think you’ve probably had enough TV and I want to watch the news.” She reached past him for the remote.
Joshua whined, turning to her in appeal against this latest unfairness, but she wasn’t listening. Her attention was fixed on the newsreader as she ran through the headlines. Looking tired and suitably glum, she listed the most significant of the current natural disasters and then tried to end her litany on a high, with a humorous reference to Selena Williams. The Portuguese medium was currently gaining momentum with her claims that she could talk to aliens who were stealing our time, and that she was the only one who could convince them to stop. Joshua stopped whining and stared at the television.
“Someone should make her do it” he stated firmly with the conviction of the very young. “Mum,” he pulled at her jumper, “We should talk to someone. If she can make everyone stop being grumpy, she should do it, why wouldn’t she?” His face contorted with the effort of trying to understand. “Why do the aliens even want our time anyway? Don’t they have their own?”
“There are no aliens, Joshua, why do you want our time so badly anyway? What good is it to you? You don’t seem to be missing it at all.” She rounded on him suddenly. “Is it you? Are you stealing my time?” Joshua stepped back, shrinking into himself somehow as he fought to hold back sudden tears.
“Mum?” he asked in a small voice. She glared at him, tense and angry so he backed away “Mum, I’m sorry. I didn’t do anything!” Tears flowed down his face now and Marina suddenly rushed to gather him up in her arms.
“Of course you didn’t, sweetheart. Mummy was only joking, I’m sorry. Of course I didn’t mean it.” Stroking his hair, she held him in a tight embrace until the tension left both their bodies but when she moved away to tell him to finish getting ready for school, she didn’t meet his eyes.