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 near 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 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.

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.

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.

A lot of other cars have driven past since

So, I’m here in bed again and you’re up despite being tired watching telly at a disturbing volume.

Come to bed. Close your eyes. Think of blue. If you’re struggling think of a delphinium. If you’re ready, you’ll sleep. If you’re not, get up, do something else.

It’s cooler tonight. A car passes by. Our hero is driving home to his wife, Louise who is waiting up with a copy of the Observer supplement and a cup of tea. She’ll offer to make him a sandwich, what would he like? We’ve got last night’s prawns with some mayo, or some sliced silverside beef, or just some cheese. If you want I can do cheese on toast. he says, no, I already ate, I’ll just have a beer, it’s all right I’ll get it, long day, hon? But Louise knows less than a hour ago he was sleeping with Jane, her sister. But what can she say? She doesn’t want to lose him or the new build house in a good catchment area. Maybe on Monday she’ll let Martin fuck her in the toilet of the Fox and Pheasant after work.

A lot of other cars have driven past since. I hope they’re heading home to lives more mundane that Louise’s.