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The sleeping bag

By Anna Hug

It was a seventies nylon sleeping bag. Orange on the outside and lumo yellow inside. It smelt faintly of sick. And it came to symbolise my early childhood holidays. We each had one but I knew mine by its stains. Mum used to lie them across the back seat and we three sisters sat on them. Ate on them. Fought on them. Slept on them.

Once, when we were driving to France through the night, Dad put the seat back down and we were allowed to sleep in them lying flat. Squashed next to the cases I counted the street lights as they went by overhead, each illuminating the orange for a second.

But more often than not, my orange sleeping bag meant a trip to the cottage. A small, stone Welsh cottage my grandparents had bought in 1943 for £150. Mum had spent her childhood holidaying there and she took us throughout ours. The cottage was in a remote valley with an unchanging view of the purple Welsh hills and threatening skies. There was no TV, no phone. It was always damp, even in summer. But we loved it and always took our own bedding.

Tintins on my lap, journey sweets in my pocket, we would set off. I would work systematically through my wine gums at speed. My younger sister was slower to eat hers so I often conned her out of a few. But my elder sister was sneaky. She would pretend to have eaten hers, but then later, well into the journey, she would reveal her nearly full packet. She would then savour each one slowly in front of us.

Maybe it was the sugar that did it, maybe it was reading the small Tintin speech bubbles, but on every journey to the cottage I got carsick. Dad wasn’t always able to stop the car in time.

And it was my orange sleeping bag that caught it.

· Anna is an experienced copywriter who has turned her talents to writing short stories. This ‘memory’ exercise is quirky, nostalgic, detailed, well balanced and complete – all in 320 words.


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