28 January 2009

4 A.M.

It’s four in the morning and once again I’m awake. Awake to a biting cold trapped somewhere deep inside my body. My eyes don’t work yet and the cold is the first thing I feel. In my mind I have an image of the mountains around me, and the cold deserted mines that perforate them. This is how I feel at four in the morning, like a hollow mountain filled with an unknown cold. I try to ignore it, to wrap up in a tight ball and hope it goes away, but the cold has already reached the roots of my teeth. I can’t feel the ends of my fingers any more.

There’s a ringing in my ears like there were loud noises before but I can’t remember. Everything is too hazy. I crack open both eyes and realise I’m still drunk. I couldn’t have been in bed very long. I slide out of bed onto my knees and smile at the soft landing. I need clothing and scrabble around in the dark hearing myself mutter incomprehensible bullshit as I grab whatever textiles come to hand. With my numb fingers it takes me a few moments to wear them.

Suddenly somehow I’m in the living room and passing a table with an open packet of cigarettes. The cigarettes make me smile and I light one, writing unknown words in smoke across the empty space of the room. There’s a soft glow through the curtains that makes them almost intelligible. They hang in the air like velvet, just for a second. In the gloom I see a half-full glass of wine and I down it in one with the cigarette in the corner of my mouth. It’s quite a move considering my state and I feel awkward and sassy and right inside, and decide that I should probably go for a walk.

At the back door, all I’m able to handle are wellington boots but they’ll do fine and I like the sound they make as they go on. The pre-light of the morning is still too bright for me and I zigzag along the lane with my eyes nearly closed. The noise my feet make inside the boots makes me laugh. They’re far too big for me but I like them that way. Wellington boots should always be too big.

I don’t stop giggling until I reach the forest above the town. Sounds and images from the previous night begin to creep into my memory, amplified by the silence of the trees that have stopped their conversations to look down at me. Stumbling over roots I remember a girl, dancing. She had beautiful lips and a gap between her front teeth. There was something nice around her neck that kept getting flicked by her dark hair. I’m just getting to the part with the kiss and the words she said when I realise my arms and legs are being scratched by bushes on either side of the path. I look down and for the first time notice the outfit chosen by those numb hands in the darkness of my room. It's a yellow miniskirt from the night before and the enormous shawl my mother knitted for me that lives at the bottom of my bed. It’s perfect. I try to recall what I was thinking about but the images are lost. The only thing that remains is a memory of a good taste on my lips.

I come out on the fell side into the long grass and for the first time notice that there’s no wind, like the weather’s late or I’m perhaps a bit too early. The clouds are holding each other for warmth, and the lucky ones at the end of the valley are red-tinged and warming already. By the time I get to the top of the hill I’ve smoked three more cigarettes and burst into drunken laughter twice, and the sun has risen fully over the horizon. It’s larger than I expected, and a wonderful deep red like it’s just firing up. I sit and stare directly at it whilst I can, whilst it is entirely for me.

After a short while I realise that I’m squinting but I try not to look away. I want to see the warmth push the clouds away, but it’s too bright now even with my watery eyes closed, and the heat, that perfect golden heat is suddenly deep inside of me, lighting up everything. A warm wind picks up from somewhere and starts to mess with my hair, and I get to my feet and throw my shawl to the floor. I unzip and take off my skirt and kick the wellington boots away, hearing them land with a deflated SHLUMPH somewhere nearby. And before I know it I’m smiling and laughing and shaking my hair and all this time that crazy golden smile from a hundred million miles away beams down at me alone. My fifth cigarette drops from my mouth but I don’t care about anything any more, just this moment: me, naked and finally warm and smiling my own crazy golden smile, silhouetted from behind like a monument to the way things ought to be when you wake up cold and drunk at four in the morning.

1 comment:

katie said...

shlumph!