I wake, as I do most mornings, with an sinking sense of dread.
I try to slip back into sleep, but its too late. The dreams that are lurking there will give me no purchase. And if my brain has managed to process anything useful while I slept... let it keep its own counsel.
I am no longer surprised to find my eyes wet, my head pounding or my heart palpitating. I touch the corner of my eye to feel the wetness. Just for confirmation. Just to be sure. That’s just normal now. My heart heaves and sinks. It leaves the emptiness of my chest cavity and slips wetly and effortlessly through my ribcage. It bursts painlessly through the flesh on my back, flutters through the linen sheets and the goose-down topper on the bed. It navigates the springs inside the mattress, finds a gap in the floorboards and falls swiftly, a dead weight, through the empty room below. It cracks its way noisily through the foundations. Down and down, burrowing its way through layers of ancient bedrock til it is embedded in the earth’s core. It can fall no deeper. Perhaps it will be safe there, where I can’t reach it, it can’t break any further. Perhaps the heat will warm some life into it, so it can be useful once again.
I used to be good at sleeping. Now I am good at waking. I can tell that it is just before 6, even before I prise open an eye for confirmation from the little blue numbers on the bedside clock. A small black wooden cube, the size of a child’s building block. I bought it from one of those “fallen-off-the-back-of-a-truck” stalls that pop up like magic in the centre of the shopping mall. He, the man I bought from, and I, both know that I paid too much. But a guy has to make a buck, right? He was Chinese, he was middle-aged, he barely spoke English.
Its 5.40 am. I can tell its going to be a cold day, I can feel cool air brushing my feet where I’ve pushed them out from under the covers. The room smells gently of vanilla and bergamot and I can hear in the distance, the squish of rubber tyres on wet road. I don’t like rainy days. There is not the usual sound of birdsong, but I can hear gulls calling one another, perhaps that is what woke me, this time. There must be storms out to sea for them to be this far inland, though its not far, we are only 7kms from the beach.
It is still an hour and a half till the alarm sounds. I try to go back to sleep. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. I turn on my side and fold my arms across my heart, as if to hold dear that which has already gone. I curl up as small as I can and lay as quietly as I can. Thigh to thigh, knee to knee, calf to calf, heel to heel, ankle to ankle, toe to toe. And try to empty my mind. I recite a mantra. Sleep, don't think. Sleep, don't think. Sleep, don't think. I try to find the stillness and that intangible space between becoming asleep and falling awake.
Its no use, my mind becomes burdened by too many memories.
I think of the day ahead. I no longer look for the joy, but I search at least for something good. For a minute I think it is Sunday... Its Monday. No matter. They are all just days now. And Monday means I have a busy workload. I will be tired, but I will be distracted. It will be as good a day as I can wish for.
It is Remembrance Day. I remember. Lest we forget. Lest I remember. Lest I forget.
He hears me stir and pulls me into him and perhaps I will sleep some more.
To sleep perchance to dream.
To awake perchance to remember.
To remember perchance to forget.
To live perchance there will be joy.