5th July


He was lying on the floor, reading. The sun through the window made a little oblong of heat on the carpet. He shifted so that his feet dipped into the heat. At the end of one chapter he checked how many pages there were in the next. He moved back to his bed and lay on it, wondering what to do. He read the next chapter.

He’d had breakfast an hour ago. His mother was in the kitchen or outside. Everybody else – his father, his sister, his brother – was away. There was nothing to do and this was fine. Downstairs the grandfather clock struck ten. He put away the book and listened to the pigeons cooing in the cedar tree. They just went on cooing and cooing. It was already hot. He might go out on his bike. Later he’d take the dog for a walk.

He was bored. This was fine.

His mother or his father or perhaps both of them had instilled in him the idea that once you started a book you should always finish it. Why was that? Was it a duty to finish it, or a mark of respect to the author, or just something you were supposed to do? He always did finish a book, but sometimes he cheated, skimming the pages if it was boring him. This was what he would do with the book he was reading. He’d skim the last few chapters, so he could say he’d read it. Not that anyone was checking, but he needed to be able to say that, for himself.

Later he’d go on his bike down to the library and swap his books for three more.

Not just the day but the summer stretched out before him. He’d take the dog for a long walk. Nothing would happen.

He could go and see one of his friends. A bunch of them could get together, but school had broken up only a few days earlier. He didn’t want to see them. He liked being on his own. He liked being bored.

Days and days of it. There was so much time in a day, a year. There was so much left.

Reader: Gerda Stevenson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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