The light is dull this afternoon

The light is dull this afternoon. The right side of my face is still congested and my hearing is still wrong. When I close my eyes I can see my face as it would be in an advert for a decongestant formula. Sounds are muffled. I have a headache.

It is humid. Overcast. The low pressure is affecting my mood. Both cats are lying with me on the bed.

Ever since I can remember I have never liked loud sounds. Sounds that I don’t just hear but also feel. One of my autistic traits.

These are the summer days we forget. Dull flat light. Grey. Overcast. Humid. Low pressure that you can feel in your sinuses, dulling your senses. Brain fog. Lethargy. You can feel days such as these all over you, like stale sweat which won’t evaporate in the humidity.

Shadowless summers.

I don’t mind the heat. Once I am acclimatised. It’s these days of uninteresting light. Of lethargy. Muffled flat sounds which travel lazily through the windows to my ears, like even sound waves can’t be bothered to move through the humid air. Where nothing seems to lift my mood and my head feels foggy.

Yesterday I felt empty. Today I feel full.

I have moved to other side of the flat. Here there is cool air coming in through the window. There is distant bird song punctuated by the drone and whine of garden machinery.

The red cat has joined me and he is sprawled out messily, as is his style, on the sewing box next to my chair.

My head throbs.

The wind picks up. The curtains blow. The cool air circulates the room. The ceiling light moves back and forth. The red cat stirs and mews. The distant sound of children leaving school. Hans-Joachim Roedelius’s Wenn Der Südwind Weht plays quietly.

The sky is grey.

My hearing is still strange.

I need to finish writing an e-mail. But the words won’t come. They are jumbled and distant. Always just out of reach. When I do manage to send them to my fingertips they either disappear or they all want to be typed at once.

Syntax error.

Syntax error.

The squeal from the gate next door splits my brain in two.

The sky is white.

Put some fucking water displacement 40th formula on your fucking gate! Jesus!

My head lies on my desk in two pieces. The cool air blows over my exposed brain split perfectly through the corpus callosum. Eno’s Thursday Afternoon plays.

Everything is suddenly uninteresting

Late afternoon, Tuesday. Today has been a bad day. I am lying down. There is a distant drone coming from the dental surgery at the end of the road. And of course the sound of traffic which is beginning to build. It is 25°C.

My ears feel blocked and senses feel muffled. I have taken two antihistamines. All the sounds surrounding me are irritating. Today has been a bad day. My ECs were not approved for being late. I am now capped at 40% for the year. The muffled drones are passing through my ears like metal wire and turning my brain to mush.

My head is beginning to ache.

Lorraine is in Chelmsford now, staying with sister. Yesterday she brought a new phone after smashing her old one before leaving Colchester a few days earlier. She travelled to Brightlingsea and threw its remains in the Colne. She was tired of Dom’s calls. Her final message was clear so he had no reason to contact her. Despite studying for two years at the Colchester Institute before moving north she’d never been to Brightlingsea. She took in the sights, ate lunch in a small café then caught the train to Chelmsford.

The pressure is dropping I can feel it pressing on my eyes and sinuses. It is pushing my mood down with it. I think the extra antihistamine has caused my headache. I should have gone to the pharmacy and got some pseudoephedrine to clear my sinuses. My right ear feels slightly more blocked which makes me feel off-kilter.

This is boring. I apologise. I feel empty. Everything is suddenly uninteresting. All I want to do is sleep.

I’ll put on my trainers and help you outside. Then I’ll drink a rum eat some chocolate and go from there.

Low.

Low.

Low.

To recover his equilibrium he focused his attention on a distant plane

Channing and Melissa were kissing intensely on Channing’s sofa. Above them was a large poster print of Evelyn McHale. Channing favoured a minimal decor and aside from the print the only indications of human presence in the apartment were a framed original page of a newspaper reporting Evelyn McHale’s suicide on the wall opposite the poster and below it a reel to reel tape recorder.

Channing’s hands were on Melissa’s hips pulling her closer to his erection but the tightness of her grey office skirt prevented any real contact. She sat up with the intention of raising her skirt. In spite of Melissa’s sexually arousal, the euphoric effects of the crushed oxycodone they had inhaled were giving way to feelings of sedation more typical of the opiate; she awkwardly shimmied in her knee-length skirt raising it halfway to her hips then gave up and leaned back, her head against the poster; she turned her head towards the window and looked out at the distant landscape with barely focusing eyes.

On the reel to reel Channing’s own recordings of Satie’s Trois Gymnopédies played at half-speed. When Melissa first met Channing he had played one of the pieces on a piano in a railway station and asked if she recognised it. She had said yes, from television. Channing had said that those versions were always too fast. Satie had intended the piece to be played in a funereal manner. Now at half-speed, the melancholic air of the piece was almost tangible and the room suddenly felt oppressive. Overwhelmed, Melissa closed her eyes.

Channing got up, smoothed his clothing and went over to the window. He felt faint from a drop in blood pressure. To recover his equilibrium he focused his attention on a distant plane climbing into the darkening sky.

The longer it haunts me

It’s 3 pm. I’m lying on the bed. Outside the sky is white. Beneath the white there is grey. It’s 3 pm and my mood is low.

I roll on to my back and look at the ceiling. It is white but looks grey in the light from the window. No, not grey, there is warmth, but close to grey nonetheless. In the centre of the ceiling there is a light. It has a narrow frosted glass shade in the modernist style.

My face stings from shaving. And the smell of the aftershave is making me nauseous. I should wash it off.

I close my eyes but it doesn’t block out the world. Cars still pass. People still exchange pleasantries. I close my eyes tighter but the cars and people are still there.

You have the television on in the other room and someone is singing.

I hate the sound of the cars.

I need to finish my EC. But I don’t want to return to that world. I don’t want to remind myself how bad the last seven months have been and the detrimental effect they’ve had on my mental health. Months of not coping. Of falling apart hidden behind my usual mask of disconnection and indifference. It is a necessary evil. I understand that. But it’s not a place I want to revisit.

Hence why I’m lying on the bed. Avoiding.

But of course the longer I put it off the longer it haunts me. I’m not stupid.

The brown cat is asleep by my feet. Outside there are now blue patches in the white sky. One hour gone.

I wonder about Lorraine. I remember her as a music student at the Colchester Institute twenty years ago.

I wonder about Diana. I wonder what happen after she left Pascal. Last I heard she too was in Essex.

More blue now. The room is brightening.

There is a strange stillness to the movement

Sleeplessness is here again. It is very still tonight. Very little sound from outside the window. There is a slight chill to the air. If I listen hard I can hear the wind. I think. The window is closed. I think.

It has been a grey day. Another grey and rainy July day. Later today the sun will be back. I don’t mind grey days but right now they’re depressing me. Shutting your curtains to the grey dreary rain seems like a autumn and winter pursuit.

I suddenly feel very tired.

I have been using a blue light filter on my phone and computer for about a week. Since I’ve put them on I haven’t really used either device at night so I can’t say if they’re working to reduce my sleeplessness.

Lorraine is lying in her underwear on top of the covers of a bed in a Premier Inn near the Dutch Quarter in Colchester. It’s 4 pm and she’s thinking through the last twenty-four hours. It’s 27ºC. And she can’t get the fucking air-conditioner to work properly. She would call reception but she doesn’t want to get dressed instead she props herself up on elbow and takes the bottle of Southern Comfort from the side of the bed and swallows a mouthful. She is half-drunk. She wipes her mouth and puts the bottle back.

A car passes. Now there is no sound again apart from your breathing. And what sounds like rushing blood in my left ear which is pressed against the pillow. Tomorrow I must collect my letter from the doctor.

I’m sure I can feel a breeze. Maybe it’s a ghost blowing its icy breath on the back of my neck. The temperature has dropped by two degrees. It is now 17ºC. A gust of wind outside and cool air caresses the side of my face. The window is open, I hadn’t realised, the world is so quiet tonight.

It’s raining so softly that you can hardly hear it. But can feel it. And you can smell it.

The brown cat is asleep by my feet.

Since I woke up after dinner my mood has been flat. I don’t feel low or empty or bored. Just flat. We watched Twin Peaks and there were parts I should have enjoyed but I didn’t feel anything. I know this feeling doesn’t last.

A car passes. Driving quickly towards the moors. Now silence. The sound is flat: no noise from the car as disappears into the distance. Not that could see it, except in my mind.

The soft rain is back. Breaking the stillness. And wind picks up again. You stir next to me and the temperature drops another degree.

Another car is approaching. It turns off the main road and it’s gone. Lost in the stillness.

I look at the curtains and there is no movement but I can feel the air move around me. It smells icy and floral. There is a strange stillness to the movement that my brain is too tired to understand or explain.

Alexander stirs next to Wiktoria. He is dreaming of playing tennis but everytime the ball is hit towards him he can’t move his arm. He sees the ball in slow motion but he can’t do anything about it. Wiktoria isn’t dreaming. She is in a dreamless zopiclone sleep.

Like a ghost or a tourist

Gerald Parker was up, dressed and had breakfasted on what was left of last night’s take-away pizza washing it down with a nearly full glass of red wine he’d found on the living room table. The girl he’d brought home last night had left an hour ago, Katy? Kat? Well… The sex had been all right anyway but Gerald doubted he’d see her again; they had little in common, the small talk, while they picked at the pizza, had been awkward, so the sex was a relief, like a deep breath at the end of a tense situation.

Gerald went to the kitchen and started brewing a cup of tea. He tried to remember to girl’s name, why had he not asked her again? Perhaps because didn’t particularly care. Anyway, he sure it began with a k or a hard c. Kat seemed right, she had a vampish look: black hair, bronzed skin and immaculate make-up, highlighted with silvery tones around her temples and cheekbones. Kat suited her.

I keep falling asleep. Just for a second. It feels like a pleasant morning there is cool air coming in through the open window.

My eyes are getting heavy again, I’m going to nod off again any second. There. I blink myself back into wakefulness. It’s such an odd feeling to be falling asleep while doing something, those strange sensations in your head, a sort of shushing feeling behind your ears and temples, as you start to cross over from being awake to being asleep. Those hypnagogic dreams which incorporate what you happen to be doing at the time. Usually, in my case, reading. What I’m reading takes a surreal twist and often I actively realise I’m dreaming and I shake myself back into wakefulness, I do this when I’m nearing the end of a chapter and I’m determined to finish it. Usually though I have to give up put my bookmark in and place the book back on the table next to bed. Sometimes though, while in a hypnagogic state I just succumb to sleep. Losing my place is tomorrow’s concern.

There is a coolness in the room but even now you get a sense it’s going to be a hot day. I might go into town. I need to buy some beer and wine.

Outside a man has just shouted a cheery hello and a woman responded, almost guiltily, with, I’ve just brought some milk. You could sense the man’s bemusement from here. They both laughed awkwardly.

Yesterday, when I went into my exam the girl invigilating said, you’re Sébastien? I said yes and she took me to my seat. To the boy who came in after me she said, what’s your name please? I sat there wondering how she knew who I was. This happens a lot. And it bothers me, see I like to think that I am anonymous and drift around unnoticed like a ghost or a tourist. Distant. Disconnected. So when people I don’t know or have had little or no contact with know me, well, it always makes me feel kind of strange and puzzled.

The girl sitting across from me on the train yesterday was the influence for Katy/Kat. She was about 20 and looked like she worked on a cosmetics counter in Boots. Her makeup was perfect, with what I now know is called strobing around her cheekbones and temples. Though, her makeup was not like those cosmetic counter girls we saw Boots a while back who looked they were wearing masks because their makeup ended quite distinctly under their chins.

Time to get up.