David Moseley

Darling, leave a light off for me

2015-10-29 07:00

David Moseley

My wife travels regularly for work. She goes to all the great and glamorous places; Kakamas, De Aar, Kimberley, sometimes even Prieska.

If there’s a flight to the Northern Cape, you can bet your bowl of green eggs and sickly airline sausage that she’s on it.

If she’s not, then she’s on a flight to Bloemfontein so that she can drive to Kimberley. I’m sure it’s everything she dreamed of as a child, the thrill of business travel.

Unfortunately, these flights tend to leave Cape Town International at unholy hours in the morning, usually in the dark and well before the first chirrups of suburban birdlife can be heard.

Robyn (perhaps it has something to do with her name), though, clearly loves the sound of early morning birdcall, because she does everything in her power to wake all neighbourhood budgies from their slumber.

Every time she travels I plead with her to turn the lights off when she leaves the house in the morning. Every time she leaves the house in the morning there are enough lights blazing to attract every bug in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Her intentions are good. Clothes are placed out the night before and she showers using the spare bathroom, which is 3cm away from the “main” bathroom.

She tiptoes around, only disturbing me by slamming 14 drawers and dropping 73 teaspoons while she makes a cup of coffee, which is strange, because the teaspoons never move drawers and I’m sure one teaspoon is more than sufficient. The humble light, however, is her real Achilles Heel.

Click goes the first switch. She's looking for the bathroom light but has turned on the passage light which shines bright and purposefully into our bedroom, like a lighthouse beam locking onto a rocky outcrop warning ships of the danger, except here it shines straight into my eyes, warning of what's to come.

I turn over and harrumph. “Sorry,” she whispers, which is also peculiar because no one in the house is sleeping.

Clack goes the next switch, the spare bedroom where Robyn has laid out her clothes for the day. Except for her shoes.

Goomph, goomph, boof, donk go the shoes as they fly out her cupboard. “Sorry,” she whispers, fumbling for the right pair in our semi-darkened bedroom. The dog turns over and harrumphs.

Click. The bathroom light switch is flicked so she can brush her teeth. Except, of course, it's the passage light being turned on again. "Sorry," she whispers.

The dog gives up and wanders into the kitchen looking for breakfast. The dog realises it’s still dark outside and comes back to bed.

Click clack, the light in the lounge, which in our small house is only three footsteps from the bedroom, goes on. Clack click, the outside light, right above our bedroom window, goes on because "the dog doesn't like to wee in the dark".

Click, clack, click, the kitchen light now, unnecessary because the tiny lounge and the tiny kitchen are practically one in the same, goes on and off; Morse code from Robyn I assume, letting me know that she’s survived the perilous walk from the bedroom to the kitchen.

By now flights from Cape Town International have been redirected and are circling over our house because we're the most brightly lit property in the province. Ships in the harbour are responding to the lights with their foghorns. The buzz of one trillion traveling insects rings out.

Soon, I reason, it will be dark again. But then the front door slams, the car starts and Robyn speeds off to catch her flight.

I look at the dog. The dog looks at me. The lights are on and everyone except Robyn is at home.   

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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