As human beings, we need pillows to support our necks. In the evening the sun shines. In the day the sky is grey.
I am the person at the window. I am the one watching. I only watch. I cannot keep them from trouble. I only watch.
The warmth rises. It fills the space. It blocks your nose. It blocks your ears. It disorientates your senses. Where am I? Where is this? What are those flashing lights?
Trouble is, we forget. Who is bad. You see. We forget.
So I have been asleep for a few hours since I started writing to you. It is now almost midnight. I don’t know what I have written before this. (What I write as I am falling asleep is usually nonsense!) I only know what I am writing now.
The room is dark. Except for the light from my phone and the display on the tower fan which says 22°C. The world is still. Right now. I think the window is closed. You are in the bathroom.
I dreamt of the same house twice. First, last night then again tonight. But I can’t remember my dream from tonight, except I was back in that house.
A car drives past breaking the silence.
Now, it is just the ringing in my ears again. The constant high-pitched ringing. Ringing is wrong. It sounds like a continuous flow of sound. Whistling. Yes, whistling is better.
Midnight. 12.00 am. Zero hour.
It is now tomorrow. It is now today.
The sound in my ears is making me feel nauseous.
I am sitting on the edge of the bed in the inky dark. My sinuses are blocked. My face is lit by my phone I can see it out of the corner of my eye reflected in the mirror.
I am sitting in the living room now. You have headphones over your ears and you are playing a game. The hum in the living room competes with the whistling in my ears.
It’s now after two. You are brushing your teeth and I am lying on top of the candlewick bedspread with the red cat. The light is on. It is very late. No sounds outside just the constant whistling in my ears.
2.30 am. Upstairs with a glass of Laphroaig. I have to go to the doctor’s surgery first thing tomorrow to pick up the letter from my GP. I am going to be very tired.
In bed. 4.10 am. Not tired. Headache. Escitalopram yawns. It is very quiet and still. Very pleasant. Just your breathing and the whistling. There is cool air coming in through the window. I can feel it on the back of my neck. I keep clenching my jaw, another escitalopram side-effect. Why am I suddenly getting side-effects after a year?
The brown cat is somewhere in the room I can hear her bell. A car passes heading towards town. The world will be waking up soon but I don’t want to think that. Because I want to sleep.
I am clenching my jaw again. It is making my headache worse. I hope it’s sunny in the morning when I walk over to the doctors. Nice dry heat and the sun on my face.
I ought to try and fall asleep. Maybe I’ll read for a while. My moon is upstairs, charging. I put the potatoes away in the fridge if you are looking for them.
Cath can’t sleep. She is sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of milky tea. Outside the window, she can hear the papers being delivered to the local shop. She swallows the last of her tea. The papers have been the delivered and the van has driven away. The world is still again. She goes to the bathroom, urinates, washes her hands and swallows an Ambien with a handful of water from the tap. She goes back to the kitchen eats a biscuit from the tin. Turns out the lights and goes to bed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The squeal from the gate next door splits my brain in two.
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.
So. This is what it has come to: in bed before 9 pm. The fragments lay scattered about. There is a deafening high-pitched sound. Ear-splitting. In the other room, an empty room, an awful sitcom is playing out.
Channing and Melissa were kissing 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.
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.