Bing bing! Bing bing!!
…that familiar sound of a text message, only this time it’s 1.55am. Maybe it’s part of being a mother that I have to get up and see what it is all about.
‘Pick me up please. Help me mum. Wake up please. Please.’
I feel unnerved. One of my daughters is due to fly out to Oz in a few hours - it has to be her! A slight twinge of annoyance – am I being used as a taxi to the airport?
I text back ‘Where are you?’ realising she may have broken down in her car which had been giving her problems.
Bing bing! Bing bing! Another text.
‘At home. Please come mum. I really need you please help me please mum come.’
I begin to feel tense and worried.
Bing bing! Bing bing! ‘please help me please’
Shivers run down my back. What’s happening? I pick up the landline and ring her at home, but get ‘Sorry I can’t come to the phone at the moment….’
Now I’m not just tense, I’m really frightened.
Bing bing! Bing bing!. That routine beep now seems urgent, ominous.
‘Please mum I want help please’.
I put the phone down and raise my husband from his sleep.
As he wakes up I text with trembly fingers – to her name on our contact list this time; ‘Answer the phone’.
We try her landline again. A sleepy voice answers “Hi mum – what’s up?"
Oh God - the relief! I explain. She has no idea what the story is so I hang up and let her get the last smidgin of sleep before she catches her plane.
My husband is now fully awake and has noticed something I hadn’t. The phone number is different from our daughter’s. In my concern I had presumed it was one of our daughters as few other people have my number. I had just hit the Reply button.
He calls 111 and hands me the phone to explain it all to a brisk, no nonsense officer.
But on my way back to bed another thought hits me. What if the unknown number belonged to my other daughter’s husband – it had changed recently and I didn’t know the new number. What if he had had a heart attack? What if…?
I can’t stand it. I have to ring her.
She answers in a sleep-slurred voice. Phew. Relief once more. I tell her I’ll fill her in on the story in the morning and hang up.
But before I can rest easy, I have one more daughter to check – just to be sure. It’s been that kind of night.
I pad down the hall to her room and peek in to see her tousled hair on the pillow. She’s safe and asleep. Back to bed, but not to sleep. I now worry for someone else’s daughter. My mind scans all the possible scenarios, none of them pretty. Finally I take a sedative.
Next morning there’s a knock on the door. Two policemen let me know that whatever happened last night has been dealt with. A domestic dispute. Another night in someone else’s life.