David woke up early.
The summer sunlight was already shining strongly against his bedroom curtains, illuminating the floral pattern in gaudy colours.
He lay quietly for a while, staring at the curtains with his eyes half closed.
As he slipped into a sleepy reverie, the shapes of the roses and lilies began to transform into surreal and bizarre faces and strange magical beasts of great power and vulgarity.
He shook himself awake. shedding the powerful and lucid half dreams that he often found himself slipping into and crept slowly out of bed, careful not to make any unnecessary noise.
And then he remembered. Today was the day of Robert's visit!
David put on his glasses and hobbled quietly into the bathroom, not wanting to wake up the household earlier than was necessary.
Today was going to be a special day. A day that David was really looking forward to.
His friend Robert was coming over to play.
Robert was in Year two at school and was nearly seven. He was bright and funny and he and David were the best of friends.
David looked forward to Robert's visits, but Robert's mum Joan was often very busy and didn't have time to drive Robert over to David's house, which made David sad as he was frequently quite lonely.
Robert and his mum would be arriving at 1 o'clock, and David had planned an afternoon of fun.
They would play games in the garden (Robert knew that David couldn't run around much because of his poorly leg, but they could still have a lot of gentle entertainment).
Then they would watch their favourite movie together, then eat cake, play ludo and tell each other jokes until it was time for Robert to go home.
David washed, brushed his teeth, then returned quietly to his bedroom and dressed in the clothes that had been laid out ready for him.
He found himself humming a quiet little tune (it was from one of Robert's favourite songs in the movie they were going to watch), and he smiled to himself.
You're up with the lark this morning," said a familiar female voice from the next bedroom.
Yes. Robert's coming over today," said David excitedly.
"Joan won't be bringing him round until after lunch, David. don't get too excited. It's only 8 o'clock!"
"I've got lots to do," exclaimed David". "I've got to make some squash, get the sweets out and clear the garden so we can play".
"OK then. Let's get you some breakfast, then I'll help you to get things ready". "You're always so excited when Robert visits".
David spent the morning happily pottering about preparing things for Robert's arrival.
He tidied up the garden, putting away all of the odds and ends of gardening tools and equipment that had been left out and then arranged the garden furniture so that Robert's mum Joan would be comfortable while she watched them.
Then he got out the compendium of games that contained the ludo board and selected the video they would watch.
Finally, he made some orange squash, put some crisps in a bowl and got out the plates that would soon be filled with cake and biscuits.
David settled down by the window that looked out over the road that went past their house and waited expectantly.
The second hand on the mantelpiece clock jerked sluggishly round, and the ticking sound it made seemed strangely loud in the quiet room.
"It's ten to. Can I go outside and wait" he called.
"No dear. I don't want you near that busy road. You remember what happened last time?"
David vaguely recalled that he had wandered off and that a police officer had found him and brought him home.
But that was an accident.
He hadn't meant to be a nuisance, and he was sure it wouldn't happen again.
Still, he would do as he was told.
it was easier.
So he sat and waited.
One o'clock came and went, then one fifteen.
David became anxious.
Once or twice, he saw a car that looked familiar, but then it drove past, and he could see that its occupants were not the familiar faces he was expecting.
Suddenly, the phone rang.
"I'll get it" he called.
He picked up the phone excitedly.
"Hello," he said. "David speaking".
"Hello dad," said Joan. "Sorry, but we won't be over to see you today".
"Robert has a cough, and I need to do some shopping".
"We'll pop round another day".
"Give mum my love".
The phone went dead.
David stood frozen.
He felt an almost unbearable weight of sadness overwhelm him, and he started to weep quietly, still standing in front of the window with the phone in his grasp.
"Was that Joan on the phone?" said a familiar voice.
David felt an arm around his shoulders as his wife Mary comforted him.
"It's not fair" sobbed David.
"Joan is a busy mum," said Mary.
"There will always be another day".
David continued to weep.
For the first time that day, his heart was broken.