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My two cousins and my sister and I sit on the sofa in our dressing gowns with our glasses of multicolored milk watching a movie we don’t fully comprehend as it unfolds in layers of deeply British grandeur. Characters on the screen parade in shining brocades of glamour, delivering lines we intuit to be funny and yet can only pretend to fully understand. 

Nevertheless we’re transfixed, cozy in our temporary freedom from the pretensions of everyday life - including our parents, who are laughing and drinking in the dining room down the hall. 

We like one of the older characters, “Dickie”, because he looks like our Grandad with his pommade-lathered hair and immaculate, strike-through moustache. Every time the character’s wife, Dora, says his name, my sister repeats it perfectly, mimicking her stiff-upper-lipped intonation with precise and hilarious clarity: “Dickieee!” Lee, my older cousin, snorts loudly and falls to the ground, rolling around on the braided rug in mock hysterics until he knocks the table leg, spilling what’s left of my sister’s Strawberry Nesquik over and onto the floor. Justine quickly grabs the hem of her pink and knobble-fluffed dressing gown to mop up the mess, to which my sister, horrified, squeals “nooooo!”

Inevitably my uncle soon enters, and with only the barest measure of gravity makes his expectations of us clear: “Keep it down in here, yeah? Or it’s bed for the lot of you.”

“Sorry,” my sister and I say. “Sorry Dad,” say Justine and Lee.

Satisfied for now, my uncle leaves and we return our attention to the movie. “Dickieeee!” my sister whispers after a few seconds have passed, and we all clap our hands to our mouths to suppress the giggles that bubble up through our throats. But after that we remain quiet, happy for the moment just to be together, oblivious to the clock on the wall that ticks the bedtime hour now and always.

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