“I want MAAAAAAA!”
It must be 6am already. My tiny blonde alarm clock has gone off in the next room and I’ve got approximately 56 seconds to have a quick piss and then get to him before he reaches critical mass.
I execute a well-trained bladder manouvre and open his bedroom door. He’s been in that room since he was 7 months old but we still call it ‘the study’.
“Hey Ma. I want to wake up.”
“Okay. Should I turn on the light so we can get you out of your sleeping bag?”
“Are you ready for the bright?”
I switch on the light and he is standing at the end of his cot, head bowed in a gold rush of curls against the not-very-bright bulb.
“Shall we get you ready for Rainbow, and wake up your Da?”
Ten minutes later I have sloughed my child into an orange-and-red-and-pink outfit worthy of a ‘dressing in the dark’ scouting badge, and his father is standing at the door, dressed but possibly not awake.
“Bye!” my two year old yells. “See you soon! Good luck!”
The front door closes and I have just enough time for a mashup of two of the following:
Pack my lunch
Clean my teeth
I go with options B and D because A I am vain, and B I talk to people all day and no one wants a waft of that pizza from twelve hours ago.
I slam the front door, then check that I have my keys. This is not the ideal order of proceedings, but I do have my keys, today. I trot down the hill and up the hill to the train, avoiding the fresh brown dog poo, the rehydrated grey dog poo and the poo that looks suspiciously familiar but definitely isn’t mine because I had an early night on Saturday.
I make the train with heart-pounding seconds to spare. I flop down on a seat and remove ten thousand layers of clothing. I pull out my headphones and clap them over my ears, fighting the usual battle with my hair. The early morning sunlight changes colour as music floods through my ears and I have a small moment of glory as bass guitar and a blistering female vocal assaults my joy.
Music transforms public transport. The carriage of suits sways in time to the beats in my ears, at least twenty people bob their heads as Bingethinkers blare “Can I get an answer/can I get a yes – YES”
The train plunges though Westgarth and then slows, waiting for another train to pass. In the pause, I curve my head to look out the window. Directly opposite my window is a high brown fence, tagged and faded. I recognise a few of the common Melbourne tags.
Suddenly, a pair of disembodied hands appear above the fenceline, holding a perfectly white cat. The cat is curled into a sitting position, his bottom resting comfortably in one of the hands while the other supports his chest.
The cat gazes along our train carriages, his furry triangle head swerving slowly. I am reminded of The Exorcist and relieved when his neck only stretches along 180 degrees.
I twitch my head around my own carriage, desperately looking for a pair of eyes that have seen this periscope feline trainspotter. Everyone is looking at their iPhones or books or asleep although there’s that guy who’s fondling himself but I’m happy not to meet his gaze.
My train jerks into life, and I look back to the fence. The cat is still there, curled and calm in those mysterious hands. He tilts his head and gives one front paw a cursory lick.
As the train moves off, the hands gradually lower and the cat disappears. I jerk my head around the carriage, searching for a pair of eyes that have seen, suddenly desperate – someone must have seen?
All eyes are down or closed.
The train sways off towards Clifton Hill.