The mobile fades to black and I lay there in the dark for a moment, trying to decide how I feel. Seems I'm in too minds - equal parts relieved and annoyed. Offended, even, at being effectively stood up. The thought eventually crosses my mind that Jen may have a very good reason for not calling, for not letting me know how things have gone with Phil, for not making plans for tomorrow (today now). Yes, she might well have. I just can't imagine what they are, and find that I'm not bothered enough to try working them out.
I slip my jeans on, then pad as quietly as I can across the cavernous spare room and onto the landing. After a moment's fumbling I find the light switch, then recoil from the brightness, one hand shielding my eyes like the peak of a cap. As I cross the hall I notice Tom and Sophie's door is open, presumably in the hope of drawing some cooler air through the room. I pause on the far side of the landing and, my eyes now adjusted to the light, peer through the door.
Their duvet is pushed right back too. Tom's on the far side of the bed, his back to the door. He's snoring lightly - someone else that perhaps had too much wine last night. Sophie looks to be sleeping much less heavily, her legs twitching and kicking. She's wearing a short cherry-red nightdress of some sheer material (silk, maybe? Tom could afford silk). I take a step forward and, as I do so, Sophie's left leg kicks up, flicking the last of the duvet off her feet. With this movement, the nightdress slips all the way up her leg and for the briefest moment I can see her hip and the smooth hollow that sits in its shadow, dimly illuminated by the hallway's projected light.
I stand motionless, silent, trying not to even breathe. I wonder if Sophie is awake, or close to it, and it crosses my mind that if she is then I might have some explaining to do, but still I stand there, looking at that leg, that thigh, that hip. Tom has everything.
After a minute (or two, or five), my bladder reminds me why I got up in the first place, and I drag my gaze away from my best friend's wife... and see his daughter on the far side of the landing, watching me.
I somehow manage to keep most of it to a stage whisper.
Uncle Pete, you said a bad word.
She's tired, really tired, eyes half closed, a careworn pink toy rabbit in one hand. I cross the landing to her as quickly and quietly as I can, one finger instinctively going to my lips. Shhh, that finger says. Be quiet.
You said a bad word, she whispers. I squat down to her level and whisper back the only thing I can think of in the circumstances.
No I didn't, because this is a dream and I'm not really here. Go back to sleep and when you wake up in the morning you'll forget all about this.
But I saw the light on, she says, but already she's turning back to her bedroom door, her free hand rubbing an eye absently.
This is just a dream. Night-night Lucy-Lou.
There is a mumbled nigh-nigh as the bedroom door closes and Lucy, the witness, is gone.