Today I am super pleased to be hosting an extract of Darcie Boleyn's new book Something Old, Something New! Read on below for a sneak peek into the book!
I hold my breath and will my heart to slow down as I listen.
But I am not mistaken; my house is filled with the song of crickets. It’s as if I am abroad and they’re chirruping away. But I am not on a Greek island in a café eating date and walnut scones filled with honey and yogurt; a pleasant image inspired by a recent novel. I am, in fact, in England, inside my own home, clad in my fleecy pyjamas and it is February. So why, then, can I hear crickets?
I sit up and rub my eyes. My neck is stiff from sleeping on the sofa and I am cold. I need to go to bed and snuggle beneath the duvet. I pick up my phone and check the time. Three-thirty a.m. I head out to the hall and nearly fall over Dragon who is sleeping across the hallway guarding the stairs like some ancient mythical creature guarding its gold. Fairy Princess is not far away, snoring her head off in a very un-princess-like way. They clearly don’t need to go out, so I step carefully over them and tiptoe up the stairs. The house is immersed in darkness and I usually like this time when I can listen to everyone I love breathing in unison under one roof. But tonight, there is another noise and it is incongruous in my Sutton semi.
The crickets! The central heating must have encouraged their journey to maturity and some of the larger ones are chirping.
Upstairs, I pop my head into each child’s room to check on them. Anabelle and Janis are sleeping in their beds, but when I enter Henry’s room, he is sleeping on his knees in front of the vivarium. How can children do that? Fall asleep in some strange sort of yoga position. The lights inside it are off but I can make out the small dark shape of the baby dragon underneath the fibre-glass cave. I gently scoop Henry up and shuffle him into his cabin bed – not easy when he is getting so big and I have to lift him up four steps too – then pull the covers over him. As I turn away and head for the door, something crunches under my foot.
And again as I take another step.
There is a slimy wetness beneath the crunch.
I pause as my sleep fuddled mind tries to conjure an explanation.
Henry probably sneaked a grape up here too and that somehow got mixed up with the Lego and that’s what’s now sticking to the ball of my foot and oozing between my toes. It must be Lego that Henry has left out again, even though we’ve had the discussion about putting it away once he’s finished playing with it. The dogs don’t brave the stairs very often, but if they do and they decide to consume some of his plastic building blocks or his intergalactic pirate ship, then there will be an expensive trip to the vet and Henry will lose what is now being hailed as a better investment than stocks and shares. I will certainly have to speak to him about tidying up properly tomorrow.
But as I take another step, the chirruping gets louder and something scuttles across my naked foot and up my shin. I shake my leg vigorously and hear a plop as something hits the wall. It’s like a horror movie where everyone except for the actress can see that at any moment she’s going to have her leg ripped off by a giant killer scorpion. My heart thuds as I realise with mounting dread what must have happened. This is no giant scorpion and this is not a movie. I told Henry ten times before he went to bed to ensure that he put the lid on the cricket tub properly but now…
I thrust my fist into my mouth and bite down to stifle my scream. I want to get my feet off the floor so I take it in turns to lift one then the other. Which is your favourite foot? Which one would you keep if you had to choose? It’s like some bizarre Sophie’s choice.