She keeps moving, too fast to catch up to, too quick. The black curtains occlude her, the floor strewn with cushions, I can’t seem to make headway. She has a mask. It doesn’t suit her face. She keeps staring at me, but always just as she rounds another corner, disappearing behind another curtain. I must stay centred. I don’t want to get lost here. This isn’t my place. I keep chasing her.
The pillow, soaking in sweat and saliva again, chill against my face. I hate waking up like this. Bothers me. Not yet 3am. T-shirt soaked through, too. Groggy. I hate waking up like this. Body isn’t moving yet. Trying to move.
Some people I’ve talked to actually sleep well. They sleep all through the night and wake up the next day after sleeping non-stop through the night. I’ve experienced that a few times: the next day I practically leap out of bed and get a million things done, but by the end of that day, I’ve got burn out. Instead of simply falling asleep I toss and turn and then wake several times through the night.
Body is moving now. Get up, change pillow and t-shirt, and go back to bed. Maybe I’ll sleep all the way through to 5am this time. Work tomorrow. More adults behaving like children and ignoring their responsibilities. I want to escape them. Pointless encouragement, wasted effort, ‘Can’t lead a horse to water’.
‘No. Do not cross there. The gate is here. Come through the gate.’ He can’t see that isn’t a path? How foolish is this man? Walking in this place means paying attention. One cannot simply do as one pleases! My gaze pins him to the spot and he recognises the wall, the garden, the path and the gate. He nods his agreement and his understanding is clear.
I simply turn and follow her, as he follows me, and we proceed into the old dilapidated house. Our link is unbroken and solid as we gain the stairs and we proceed to the front door as a one. He at least is paying more attention to his surroundings now but I doubt he will join us again. His witless error almost resulted in him being thrown out of the Way.
At the front door, it opens yet it is closed. We can see into the front rooms of the house: the living room is a little untidy but not dirty, the entrance is small but serviceable with umbrellas and coats on hooks, the far side of the living room has a window allowing light in. Elsewhere are bookshelves, paintings and mirrors on the walls.
As we wait for the door to open he nudges for my attention. He better not speak in this place! He steps back and slips – oh, stupid man!!! – and pulls me down. My head hits the railing.
The alarm. How Apple managed to get the perfectly programmed alarms to be noticeable and not irritating yet not lulling is an achievement. At least the pillow isn’t so soaked this time. Time to get up. Coffee. Oh, La Vazza! My dear friend! Turning on the gas stove: why would a gas stove need a safety starter when it works only 40% of the time on the first go? Ridiculous. Any child that had the strength to depress the nozzle ought to have the right to start the flame!
Next ‘safety’ gas nozzle for the shower. Having a strong body, I’m not sure this product ever went through real-life testing with people of below-average strength. This thing requires a very strong shove to get working and the mains require tools. Not sure how an elderly person would be expected to turn this on and off every time they needed hot running water.
The cold winter mornings need hot running water!
The shower fills up with steam but somehow the room isn’t warm. Already shivering. No point in turning on the heater as I’ll be out the door in a few minutes. Erk, winter! The hot water relaxes my neck and back, and crack-crack-crack my spine is back in place. I love hot water flowing over me! Heavenly!
Leap from shower to towel to work clothes. SO many layers! I hate the cold! And… out the door.
‘Good morning everyone, how are you today?’
‘Good morning, Jayk. How are you?’
‘I’m good.’ I offer my smile, knowing full-well that chatting about sweat-drenched pillows and alternate-reality dreams doesn’t go down well will students. They are a good bunch of people, but like most, seem to stagger through their lives and then simply fall into the grave at the end of it all. Most people don’t really seem to have much interest in things outside of shopping or TV.
‘Jayk, what is that?’ One of my students is staring at me.
‘What is what?’
‘There. On there.’ He is pointing to my forehead, near my right eye. His eyes are wide open. ‘A line.’
Raising my hand to my head, I feel a scar that wasn’t there yesterday. Oh, that stupid, fool of a man! What the hell was he there for, anyway?! Instinctively I go into ‘innocent mode’. Ok, now I’m REALLY annoyed.
‘Sorry, what ‘line’ do you mean?’ He moves closer, but I shoo him away with a wave of my hand. ‘Hang on, let me check.’ The iPhone selfie provides a good-enough view of a lovely new scar traced from above my right eyebrow back toward my hairline, pointing toward the tip of my right ear.
‘Oh, don’t worry about that. I was at karaoke with a friend last weekend and I bumped my head on the table.’ Now everyone is looking at me. I hate being the centre of attention. That guy, useless bastard! ‘Hahaha – it’s ok. Don’t worry!’ My cheeriness and effortless laugh put them at ease. I guess that’s one more scar to add to my collection.