I woke with a start. The soft light was sneaking through the curtains and illuminating my room. The white chair facing the glass-topped table with hotel card and standard vinyl binder sat glowing in the light.

I opened my curtains to the little courtyard of Parisian stones and geraniums.

I was dreaming of the boys. They were laughing and telling me they had gone for a swim and that they were staying in room 40. They told me they loved me and, as they kissed my cheek, they slipped through my fingers and I was awake.

Reality, in Paris, nearly three weeks into my six-week trip and thousands of miles, light years even, from the mini men who danced in my mind that night, as usual.

I texted Dawn and told her my dream. They were on their own holiday on the Gold Coast. Their room as displayed on the door is 04. It was a nice coincidence and one I searched for them in.

I wiped my eyes and got ready to start my day trip to Chartres.

Nearly two years later, I dug out my travel journal and went to bed to read it for the first time since I returned from Europe in 2010. I opened the first page and some UAE dirham fell onto my chest.

Inside was a note on an A4 piece of paper Dawn had texted me the image of when I was overseas, which I now have folded in my book. A note from the boys, written, I think, by Beau.

“Dad, every time I want to think of you, I look at the map on the wall,” it read.

Then just last night, Dawn told me, Beau was overtired and restless and visited her bedroom with the map we drew before my trip.

“Mum, Dad went to Europe and this is where he went.”

Such a big event in their little minds.

It has inspired two little men who can’t wait to finish school so they can visit the places in their dreams, like giant bowls of neverending spaghetti, the Mona Lisa, canal cities and grottos of blue.

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