Sunday, December 2, 2012

When I wake up: A Story

Now for something a little different. I thought occasionally I might share with you a short story, some micro-literature. These are fairly spontaneous pieces that I write from time to time, as an idea comes to me. This one today I have called: When I wake up (not too original). I wrote the first paragraph without any notion at all of what would follow. It contains a naughty word, so you have been warned!

When I wake up

When I wake up the world is a giant Kinder Surprise, being shaken by an enormous impatient child, and I am the little toy rattling around inside. Except that nothing moves, apart from my heart within my breast, and the duvet, lifting in rhythm to my breathing.  Quite why I feel this way is not at all clear to me, and perhaps never will be. With the shaking comes the sweating, then a kind of diminishing shudder: a spinning top finally coming to rest.

I had opened my eyes, but, initially, to no avail, as the room is well-sealed off from the light. Only gradually do I see the edges of the window outlined, and the green glow of the light on the transformer, embedded in the power cable for the computer. Kryptonite, I think. That is how kryptonite might glow in the dark. Surprisingly bright for such a small light source; and now that I have noticed it, it turns the room into an ominous underground cavern.

Vague images are fading from my mind, sensations rather. I had been in danger, but from what, I have no idea. The sweat begins to dry on my body, leaving me chilled. I bury my arms beneath the duvet. For the moment, there is little chance that sleep will return. My heart still thumps within my chest and, oddly, in my right ear. I lie awake, waiting for the hour or so to pass, until it is time to get up.


I decide to walk to work this morning, trying to shake free of the fuzz that clouds my mind and vision. Already I am exhausted, with the whole day still stretching before me. I experience the odd sensation of being followed. I contemptuously deny the urge to look back over my shoulder. “Get a fucking grip!” I don’t think anyone nearby detects words in this sudden expulsion of breath. Throughout the day I am edgy and jumpy. Colleagues learn to stay clear. Fortunately I can hide in the office for most of the day. Little gets done. After a hurried lunch, during which I keep to myself as much as possible, I find myself drowsing at my desk. Supporting my head with one hand, pretending to look at the computer screen, but seeing nothing through half-closed lids. But as my eyes close, I feel it again, that innominate dread, and jerk awake suddenly from a great height.


Again that evening I decide to walk. The frosty air is pleasant on my face, tightening the loose bags beneath my eyes. I punch in the code on the door to my apartment building and enter the corridor. Always at first the air inside feels too warm. I check the mail box. Nothing. Up one flight of stairs. Someone ahead of me unlocks their door: the rattling key in the lock, the slight, almost air-lock sound as the door closes – “whooomph” – behind them. At my own door, I lower the key towards the lock, and freeze. Despite the uncomfortable warmth, I freeze. There is a sound.

I think it is a sound, although it is perhaps too far down the registry to actually be heard. It is, at least, akin to a sound. Then I become aware of it in the cells of my body. I may dissolve. But just before the point at which this seems inevitable, the movement takes on a new amplitude, and the enormous, impatient child begins to shake the giant Kinder Surprise that is the world, and I rattle around inside it.

I am almost relieved, as the pressure is released. I am not sure if the pressure within the world had been creating a resonance within me; or whether the pressure within me has generated a sympathetic response in the world. Either way, it is a relief to be free of it.

It is, now, only a building shaking.

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