“secret identities”

Ash Caldwell wakes at 7.13am, though he can’t see the time. All he knows is it’s still dark outside and the house is silent, meaning Mum won’t be up yet.   He wriggles to the edge of his new, bigger bed that he’s not used to. His legs dangle over the side. His toes are still an inch from the floor. He’ll grow into it soon, Grandad says. He’s a growing boy, he says. He takes a deep breath and pushes himself forward… a perfect dismount, a sigh of relief.   He pulls a torch from under his pillow to light the untidy path between the bed and his wardrobe. Having navigated all the clothing and toy obstacles, he starts the transformation.

“invent a character”

Major Henry Caldwell (retd) wakes up naturally at 5:36am. After a few minutes of cognitive reorientation, he pulls back the flowery pink Laura Ashley duvet cover and gingerly swings his feet to the floor, joints stiff from a night of inaction. He pushes himself off the bed with an “oopht” and begins his morning exercises: once a rigorous two-hour routine, now a series of stretches.