I am five years old and on a beach holiday with my parents and my brother who is two years my junior. I open my eyes to bright sunlight and I just know it is going to be the best day ever! James and I jump out of our beds at the same time and run from our bedroom in our villa to our parents’ room and en route I catch a glimpse of the swimming pool through the sliding glass doors in the living room. My desperation for a swim, intensified by the sight of the swimming pool, is evident in my voice as James and I barge into Mummy and Daddy’s room to wake them. They are both a bit groggy and moving far too slowly for James and me who are about to explode with holiday glee.
Mummy and Daddy insist that we have breakfast before we swim as they make their way out of their bedroom. I can barely eat because the excitement caused by the shimmering blue pool not 10 feet away from me beckoning to me has my stomach in knots. I feel like I have to pee and poo at the same time and Mum and Dad’s pleas for me to eat and their attempted bribery by offering sweet pastries are useless. I take little bites here and there but I simply cannot contain myself.
After what feels like an eternity, we’re allowed to go into the pool but not until sunblock has been slathered upon and into every inch and crevice of our tiny bodies. I feel secure by Mum’s touch as she quickly and expertly rubs the cream onto my skin and face. A bit goes into my eyes and burns but I don’t mind. Then at long last my swim fins are squeaked up my skinny little arms and I am ready!
James and I squeal with delight as we jump into that glorious pool. How cool and refreshing that water feels! A bit of it goes up into my nose and stings as I break the water’s surface. Salty snot runs out and mingles with the slightly sweet (probably from pee) water of the pool and it is a heavenly flavor to me. James and I spend all day playing games in the pool taking a break only when Mum and Dad insist we have something to eat at lunch. Mum and Dad seem to be having fun getting to know the neighbors at the villa. They are drinking glasses of wine with fruit which look more delicious than it tastes (I’ve tasted this wine punch before and was very disappointed by the bitterness).
As the sun moves across the sky and gets lower it is time for us to go in and get ready for dinner. The four of us go into our villa to get showered. As I undress it becomes apparent that I have severe sunburn and now my skin is heating up very quickly without the coolness of the pool water. I also have a terrible headache.
I tell Mum what I am feeling and she tells me to get in the shower and says that she’ll give me something for the headache in a moment. I notice she seems to be walking in circles because she is trying to tend to all of us at the same time: I am sick and on fire; James has just peed himself (I guess he forgot he wasn’t in the pool) and Dad has planted himself on the bed, switched on the telly and is moaning about not wanting to go out at all. While arguing with dad and cleaning up James’ pee, Mum rifles through her handbag and gives me a pill to take which she says will make me feel better soon.
I get into the shower and turn it on. The water pellets simultaneously hurt because my skin is so tender and feel good because the coldness cools down the searing heat. I realize that I’m very tired and tell Mummy that I don’t want to go out because I’m so very tired. She’s frustrated because James is now pant-less and watching telly next to Dad waiting for her to give him clothes and no one besides her seem to be making any efforts to leave the house to go to dinner.
The tiredness overwhelms me and I can barely make it to the bed. I fall into the bed into the most delicious sleep – the sleep of childhood. The sleep of absolute exhaustion combined with not having a care in the world. My heart is full and happy and the day’s events replay quickly in my conscious brain before my other brain, my sleeping/dreaming brain, takes over.
My other brain never seems to take over though and instead, I see a very bright light; a beautiful, welcoming light that is as bright as the sun and as peaceful as the moon. I feel myself float up into the comfort of the light and indeed, it was the best day ever – for me.
It was the worst day ever for Mum who, in her haste, had given me a tranquilizer instead of a baby aspirin and accidentally put her baby girl to sleep forever.