Down There

Another night of poor sleep. Ever since lockdown started it gets harder.

We went to bed around eleven, and within five minutes she’d fallen into a deep slumber (if the soft pop-popping of not-quite snoring was anything to go by). It was a small mercy – at least I wouldn’t have to lie still.

The awful curtains reminded me of an infection. I was astounded as to why she’d chosen that pattern which seemed designed to catalyse fevered thoughts within me. Under the outside glare of actinic streetlights, the dim swirl of purples and oranges mutated over the course of the night into a vivid sickness at dawn.

But then, our eyes are the most dishonest organs of our bodies.

I lay there, the cheap under-bed drawer digging into my back, time dragging so much that I could discern the pauses of night birds’ inhalations before and after their hoots and peeps.

And what of those interstitial moments? Where do they go after we’ve used those minutes up? Of course, I knew: they go on, into the liminal cracks and fissures of reality, slipping through to unspace.

Just like me.

I’m what happens to a man who swallows all his pain and despair without chewing it first. Is that a drawback or an advantage?

Luckily, with all these thoughts came the comfort of knowing we’re most invisible in the darkest hours; that whilst death may walk a just few steps behind us, I was exceptional.

But what if I want to be caught, for someone to find me down here? The peace I get listening to her sleep-sounds from the mattress above me comfort me in a way talking to her on the street when we pass does not.

And this under-bed drawer is awfully cramped.

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