It’s gone like a ghost

Saturday, 2.11 am. Still and clear.

Before you come to bed the heating needs to be turned off.

Still and quiet. The window’s closed. It’s Saturday, well, Sunday now. Silence. The kind of silence you can hear when you listen. It whistles, it is almost unpleasant and makes you long for sounds, normalising sounds, wind and rain against the window, a washing machine spinning or the call of distant night animals.

Sunday, 20.25. In bed. Silence. Apart from the brown cat purring and kneading a soft blanket. Today has been a bad day. I have felt unwell. A malaise.

Tuesday, 1.03 am. I didn’t go to university today. I felt unwell, yesterday’s malaise. I got out of the shower and realised I hadn’t rinsed the conditioner from my hair or the soap from my face. At which point I felt I ought to go back to bed. But I didn’t. I tried to get some work done instead. I made coffee and ate a round of toast.

I’d had nightmares again and had slept badly. My nightmares always involve the same cast.

It is still again tonight. Light rain showers. I think I can hear the rain falling softly. The Local weather said it was going to warm up again on Friday. I can’t hear the rain just the stillness.

I’ve opened the window, it’s not raining. A car breaks the stillness. I can hear it moving further and further away. Silence. And then another car, this one’s heading away from the city. I hear it pass then nothing; it’s gone like a ghost. There’s a soft wind blowing through the red leaves of the blossom trees outside the window.

My mind is blank. I have no thoughts. I can only describe the events that are occurring. But being in bed at 1.28 am there isn’t much to describe. Here in this outlying suburb. With my head pointing towards the city and feet towards the moors.

The wind picks up. My watch ticks loudly. It’s a white swatch with black hands and numbers. There are small glow-in-the-dark rectangles on the ends of the minute and hour hands.

6.39 am. The rain is lashing down outside. The brown cat and the red cat are sitting next to me. I have just fed the red cat. The red cat woke me from an unpleasant dream.

I dreamed I went to a party which turned into a violent orgy. I walked about in a large garden looking for someone. Little children ran and played while the adults fucked; scary looking men attacked one another with beer bottles and threw balloons filled with piss. I went inside where a drunk woman was butchering Dusty’s “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”, at which point I decided it was time to leave.

I walked around a car park, looking for a car. I cut through a tiny football ground where a child’s match was going on. Some men were fighting with one another, apparently, someone had let some West Bromwich Albion supporters in and they fought with Birmingham City fans.

I eventually got home. Home in this dream was large and open-plan with a teak staircase – very early 1970s suburbia. I poured a glass of Jim Beam and put a video on. It was a coming-of-age film which began with a sister and brother in an autumnal garden arguing about baseball and soccer. The girl leaves and there is a tight close up on the boy’s face as rests his head against a goalpost and looks into the distance, his eyes filled with sadness and disappointment.

Escitalopramic dreams: vivid and coherent.

It’s still raining and I have a headache. You are dreaming next to me, your eyes flit quickly behind their closed lids; it’s very strange and I want to wake up you and ask what you’re dreaming about. Outside the rain is still coming down.

 

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The fleeting warm buzz of amyl nitrite where the nouveau riche now live

So, I have dreamed of the same house three times now. It is not a house from my past. Nor is it a house I ever remember being in. The house is haunted. To get to the house I have to pass a railway station and it is located where my old high school used to be.

The withdrawal effects of the escitalopram have lessened over the last week. I still have the occasional brain shiver but my moods seem more balanced.

6.35 am. Grey morning: raining and humid.

Two thunderstorms have passed over this morning. Huge cracks of thunder, torrents of pissing rain but they haven’t cooled the air. The temperature remains resolute. My sinuses are blocked.

I dreamed of the flats I grew up in. I tried to get to the top floor to take photographs out of the window on the landing but I felt vertiginous and couldn’t let go of the handrail. The smell, the feel of the handrails: the smooth black plastic on twisted white metal, the echoing sound of my shoes on the hard marble-like floors were all painfully familiar.

I am underwater. I can feel my ears filling with water. I can hear my breathing. I am underwater. The bath water smells of cinnamon.

I am reading Joe Orton’s diary. Joe has just fucked someone in a derelict house. My generation fucked and sniffed poppers in partly built new build houses of expanding suburbia. We drank white cider, smoked and felt the fleeting warm buzz of amyl nitrite where the nouveau riche now live. But the houses were skeletal when we used them to escape the weather, do ouija boards, get high and talk about girls and bands, all away from the prying eyes of the locals. Furthermore, they provided shelter for 14, 15 and 16-year-old girls to give handjobs and blow jobs to 18, 19 and 20-year-old men with cars from the council estate next door. Well, that’s if the graffiti and playground rumours were to be believed.

I remember when Kris Akabusi came to our school. Me and six or seven others had forgotten our games kit. We were put in a large storeroom in the drama department. Throughout the morning we were visited by four or five teachers who told us we had shamed ourselves and the school. Funny, there were no troublemakers among us, we had all genuinely forgotten to bring out kit.

If that happened now, with social media, I imagine we would have been the victims and the school would have been shamed!

As punishment, we didn’t get to meet Kris Akabusi and be photographed with him. I did meet him, however, in the car park afterwards, I asked if thought we had shamed the school and he just smiled and laughed awkwardly, then drove away in a middling sports car while a bunch of knobheads yelled racist abuse at him. You could tell he wanted to drive over them but he just waved. He didn’t do that stupid fucking thing he used to do with his fist though.

Anyway, at lunchtime, Danni Forrest (not her real name) will wank you off for a £1 under the willow tree down by the river. And Vanessa Elms (not her real name) puts out on the first date.

Schooldays, fuck were they miserable!

The anxiety dreams play out like an absurdist suspense film

Yesterday, I was thinking about the dream I’d had a few nights ago of being shot in the head.

I was in Mallorca involved in some sort of espionage. I was shot by a man in civilian clothing while a man wearing an army uniform watched on. They were on opposite sides. I was slumped against a wall watching an exchange between them. After the men had left in separate vehicles, I managed to get to my feet, seemingly undead and entered a bar where I received help. I was taken in a taxi to the place I was staying, a disused farmhouse and I collected together my belongings.

At some point, I was transported to London. I found myself disoriented in an underground shopping arcade. People looked at me strangely and I had persistent pain on the side of my head where I had been shot. I wore a tailored grey suit and a black raincoat but I felt out of time from the people around me. Disoriented, I felt I needed to get to Euston station. I searched for landmarks I recognised but the landscape shifted continuously. At one point I was near the Barbican but couldn’t get close to it because I was frightened of the towers.

I managed to find my way to high ground. To the south, London stretched out below me and to the north, I could see Sheffield in the distance. I sat down on a bench feeling defeated. I don’t remember anything after that.

I don’t think there is anything to understand from this. The only reason it received more thought than any other dream is the fact I was shot in the head and this the only time I can remember this happening.

My escitalopramic dreams are often coherent, very vivid and absurd. Sometimes even the anxiety dreams play out like an absurdist suspense film. The nightmares can be rough, though.

5.51 am. A soft rain is falling sending icy air in through the window. The light is grey. The occasional car passes. I want to be asleep. The brown cat is restless.

I should give in and get up. I’ve been lying here awake for over an hour now.

I should have got up! I fell asleep and dreamed I was cannibalised! First time for that too!

Rainy day. Rainy night. Hardly seems like August. Although, for a change, the dreary weather hasn’t left me depressed more indifferent. Is that an improvement?

Blue morning. 5.53 am. I can’t hear the rain, just your breathing. The light is bluey through the curtains. I can hear the rain now on the window. Another rainy day ahead.

Should I get up? Make a cup of tea and some toast. Or should I try and fall asleep?

6.06 am. Simon’s sitting at his desk with a cup of coffee. It’s another night he hasn’t slept. Outside his fourth floor flat, the landscape is brightening, it is raining and the light is grey. He swallows the rest of coffee. The world is waking up and strangely he feels less alone. He looks out at the rain, the distant hills and cars heading towards town. He goes to the bathroom and brushes his teeth. He gets into bed. He knows he’ll wake up at midday feeling awful but there is something about this time just before falling asleep when everything feels like it’ll be all right.

I was both relieved and sad to get away from her

I was sitting on the edge of the bed and felt like I was tumbling backwards. It was strange to see my stillness in the mirror. It felt like it took my brain a while to catch up with what eyes were telling it.

The sun is out. High in the sky. My window is open full and I can feel it hot on the side of my face. It pleasing after several grey days. It is blustery and the wind is swirling around my room disturbing my papers, revision notes and photographs.

I am back from getting my prescription filled at the pharmacy. I felt awkward as I sat waiting for it. I always do. Blue sky, some clouds, still blustery. I’m wearing lilac-coloured socks. I really like them, I’m going through a bit of pale purple phase. I bought three pairs of them but I wish I’d brought the rest. This is what I was thinking when I was waiting for my prescription to be filled.

Headache. I fear it could be a bad one so I take co-codamol. It has no effect so an hour later I take a propranolol. Half an hour later the headache begins to ease.

I went for a walk this evening, it was uninteresting. The sky was starry but not completely clear. As I headed home the moon was starting to disappear behind the hill where the observatory used to be.

I feel low tonight but I can’t figure out why. Probably more withdrawal symptoms from the escitalopram. The trouble with escitalopram is, on the one hand, I feel balanced and functional and on the other, numb and a bit slow cognitively. While it reduces my anxiety, it sometimes makes social interaction even more awkward especially when I get stuck in the middle of a sentence because the word I’m after has disappeared in the escitalopramic fog or I’ve forgotten what I was talking about. As someone who has always had a good memory, I find it both frustrating and worrying.

1.29 am. In bed, the fan is on. I’m wondering if I should put my ear plugs in, I like the sense of isolation they create. It seems pointless, you don’t have the television on and the fan isn’t disturbing me.

7.07 am. The room is cool, you would say that it is cold.

The sun is hot and my window is open full. There is some sort of work being carried out down the street. Very loud heavy machinery, the high-pitched scream of concrete being cut. Hammering. The sound of summer.

The room cools quickly when the clouds obscure the sun.

The brown cat appears at the window announces herself then climbs in while Elizabeth Taylor watches from my wall.

I dreamed of a vaguely familiar blonde girl with glasses. She sat next to me in a classroom and whispered seemingly intimate things into my ear but I couldn’t tell what she was saying, she laughed at my bemusement. We were surrounded by a lot of boys and I sensed hostility from them.

In another dream, I travelled to a house I used to live in. There was a girl there with short brown curly hair who I was told was a recovering alcoholic by a familiar man with long hair in a ponytail. She wore a floor-length Venetian red velvet night dress with a Mandarin collar. When the man with the ponytail left, she begged me to buy her a bottle of brandy. I felt bad because I wanted to, just to please her. I was both relieved and sad to get away from her.

I am sitting on the edge of the bed in the inky dark

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.

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.