Rolling through the night on a train of thought

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED

Don't look at the clock. It'll be bad news. Thought so. Four o'clock. Always four o' bloody clock. Same time, every time, every night lately. Roll over. Hug the pillow. Kick the duvet. Sigh. Listen to the still of the night. Listen ...

Madonna doesn't really sing "Last night I dreamt of some dago" at the beginning of "La Isla Bonita", does she?

C'mon, don't do this to yourself. Same old routine. Hamster thoughts on a mental treadmill. Stop it.

The chorus to that Cranberries song isn't "Do you have to/do you have to/do you have to practise cunnilingus", is it?

No, it isn't. You know it isn't. The correct lyrics are ...

Damn.

That boy I had a crush on in fifth-form. What was his name? James. Wouldn't shower after hockey. I went to his house to help with history homework and he waited till his mum went out before sneaking a kiss. Just a peck. Shy boy. His bedroom wallpaper had cabbage roses and gold scrolls. He said his grandmother chose it. What did he look like? Funny. The picture won't be painted. Recall the kiss, not the face. He died in a motorcycle accident a year later. James was a great kisser.

The gravity of the situation: if you cry while lying on your back, tears run into your ears.

Four in the morning blues. No: half past four in the morning blues. Roll over, roll back. Hear the central heating heave and pant. Tick, tick, tick.

Where does time go? Wiped away behind us? Or still there, but waiting for us to activate it somehow? Like in that Stephen King story, where the plane arrives in yesterday and nothing feels, smells or looks right to the passengers because the emotions that made yesterday live have flowed on. Yesterday is a Sleeping Beauty waiting to be kissed awake and called our lawful wedded memory. Pretentious crap.

A car alarm goes off. Wonderful. Put the pillow over my head. No good.

Could mix a milky drink.

Yes, you could.

Don't like milky drinks.

No, you don't.

Drinking. Drinking wine. Drinking wine is a subjective experience. Drinking beer and vodka is an objective experience. Because beer and vodka always taste the same to me - a banal perfection, a standard formula. Agreed rules.

Simple Minds don't really sing "She's a Riveter", do they?

Where was I? Wine is different because things can go wrong. Too much tannin. Too much sugar. Sour grapes. All those vintners thinking they know best. Wine is subjective because people think they have better taste than the next man, and screw up. Which makes wine interesting.

Wine always smells of the earth. Memory says. Haven't indulged in years. Could drink wine now. Kick away covers, pad into the kitchen, uncork a bottle. Nothing to stop me.

Yes there is. No wine.

Toss and turn. The bed still smells of Nicholas. Fresh sheets, fresh pillowcases, fresh everything except a new mattress, and I can still smell him, weeks later.

I'll think about it tomorrow. If I think about it now I'll go mad. I'll go to Tara and think of a way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow is now. Because the clock says after five, luminous arms ablaze in the dark. Work in about four hours.

Heating's too high. Thought the warmth would knock me out, shoved the dial round and closed the bedroom door - cook myself into shuteye. Stifled instead.

When I was a child and couldn't cross into the land of Nod, my father stood close and talked quiet, soothing talk. His presence, those comforting tones, and a complete feeling of security. A sudden vision: toddling in the park, my tiny paw in his great hand, a sunny day, colours and shapes like cutouts from a pop-up book and him saying not to dash ahead, keep steady, otherwise I'll fall and hurt myself. And I look way, way up into his face, hanging high above and know that won't happen because I'm with my dad, silly.

I'll ring this afternoon. I promise. And tell him I love him without telling him I love him. Yawn. My eyeballs ache.

Nature noises build. The dawn chorus in London: birds coughing in the trees. Next door's baby screaming. Deep, sobbing that wrings the heart and beats a tattoo on irritated eardrums. Wish he'd shut up.

Wish the world outside this hot, close room would shut up; the stray cars, the sirens, the wind running through the trees like the practised fingers of an old rou, eliciting low moans. Drift away. I want to, I want to ... lids heavy ... breathing shallow ... here it comes ... here it comes ...

Got it. The Cranberries sing: "Do you have to/do you have to/do you have to let it linger."

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