…were hanging over me. The opposite of what happened to the Beatles in their song. And I was absolutely depressed the night before. Why, is not important but it was like sinking in quicksand – the more of you that went under, the faster the rest of you got sucked down.
My feet swelled alarmingly – the ‘good’ foot was just mildly puffy, but the ‘weak’ foot (injured in November) blew up more than it did when it was broken. Even the ankle got puffy, and the cats were staring at it. I huddled up on the sofa and tried to pretend nothing was wrong. We were watching Lost and it seemed a particularly sad episode. Charlie was having odd dreams and running off into the sea in his sleep with Claire’s baby. Everybody turned against him, thinking he was taking drugs – Locke knocked him down, and Charlie lay there in the water looking lost.
I always had a soft spot for Charlie, a gentle and gregarious soul with very low self-esteem, and everything that happened to him felt as though it was happening to me. It was probably helpful rather than depressing, though I found myself getting angry with Locke – “how DARE you look at him like that?! Back off!”
When I finally trailed off to bed I was all too ready to fall asleep and forget everything. Several times my eyes closed. Several times the house shook me awake. It was a frightening, formless experience.
There was a sound like a rising whine in my ears while the house’s rumbling increased. That was tinnitus, or my brain filling in sound where none was. Knowing what it was didn’t make it go away. Shadows moved in on the bed. No I wasn’t imagining things – they were moving. A shape lurched past, like a figure in the daylight walking past a window – it looked like Mr Guppy from Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. He had his hat on and was strolling up and down with his hands behind his back. Over there beside the beanies was a purple wormhole. It opened out like a whirlpool when I looked at it, then disappeared on itself with a silent ‘shloop’.
Stop getting frightened. Ghosts do not exist. It’s probably time I had my eyes checked – they’re old, tired, myopic things now. Anyway, I’ve lived with the shuddering house for years. Nothing bad has ever got me. Actually it’s just hallucinations – it’s happened before when you were overtired. The dreaming part of your brain thinks you’re still asleep.
To distract myself, I started thinking about Lost. Charlie standing in the breakers at night, holding the baby. Charlie swimming after the baby’s cot in his dream, bringing it back to safety. Suddenly I sat up, remembering a dream I had the night before. We were all being swamped by the tide, which was streaming up the beach. Our clothes were swirling away in the sea and I was shouting to everybody to grab the stuff and move it up towards the trees. Nothing must be lost. It didn’t make sense to me at the time, but I realized now it was a dream about Lost. Like Charlie, I was standing in the waves, looking up at the shore. Like Charlie, I was going off my chump with daft dreams and things that weren’t there. It was like a jigsaw piece clicking into place.
My hand lay just in front of my face, pale in the light that filtered through the curtains. Every time I breathed out, a dark shadow slid across it. I got scared again. How could I see my breath? And how could my breath be black? I would have said it would be a warm pink, or rainbow-coloured, like drops of water catching the light. I stopped breathing, and the shadow slipped across my hand anyway.
At that point enough was enough. I abruptly sat up and put the light on. I looked around. Dark shadows? No. Purple wormholes? No. Mr Guppy? No. Everything looked normal. My bears over there, my beanies over here, my books on the bedside table, a crumpled blog post on the floor. Nothing was moving. With a relieved sigh, I lay back and decided to try and sleep with the light on. That was admitting defeat, but the thought of returning to Mr Guppy and co was more than I could stand.
When I got sleepy I turned off the light. And kept my eyes CLOSED.