One year. 100 articles. So we're having a Reader's Party. Come along to Upsidecrown.
7 June 2001
So this is the point where I wake up and do what I have done every day since the day she left. Since she died, more accurately.
Stir, perched on the left side of the bed, which is odd because I always slept on the right before. Until.
At 7:15 sharp, I reach across the bed to turn off the alarm clock. Except for two things. First, the alarm clock is not ringing. The alarm clock stops every night at 5:40am. Every time I come home in the evening, it is keeping perfect time again - it has always made up the 95 minutes it lost. And it is wound tight as a drum, so the key won't turn more than a quarter rotation anti-clockwise, and when you let it go the gears don't catch and the clock is no more or less wound than before, which makes it very wound indeed, as if the spring had been coiled to screaming point the moment before my key turned in the lock.
Second, my hand always falls short because, as I think I mentioned, I am suddenly sleeping on the wrong side of the bed, and I do not know why. Tell the truth, this is what freaks me out most about this whole situation. So, I never reach the alarm clock, but my hand always seems to brush a shoulder, or rest on a flank, or a neck. And when I open my eyes, there is nobody there. Of course.
No, believe it or not, I thought of that too. But no. This is not grief, or some Truly Madly Deeply insane fantasy. It is a physical sensation of contact. But it never lasts more than a second. So, to be honest, it does not worry me that much. But I do wonder about the whole different side of the bed situation.
Trauma is a funny old thing. Back in the day, people would phone the office in tears, or just not turn up for work, so you would get the angry phone call from the boss, and the twisted amusement value of sitting at your desk hearing him go from bolshy to contrite to ever so small and whispery, as if you could coax people back into life and the living of it. Always good for a giggle, that - so much so that once or twice when somebody called in with a cold or flu, we told the boss that their wife or their husband or their mother or their girlfriend had disappeared, bloodstains on the floor, police not even bothering to be baffled. Cue line manager dreading the phone call in all day, or, if we had a proactive one, a gently-gently conversation initiated by the poor sap himself.
"I'm sure you don't want to talk about it,"
"Oh no, it's fine. I just feel very washed-out."
"Of course. Of course."
"And, you know, I'm sneezing a lot."
"Yes, that's natu-what?"
Great days. It may be a bit quieter in the office now, but you know, got to keep the wheels moving. Where are we otherwise? Pretty much nowhere, really. On the bright side, office jokers seem a little bit more susceptible than most, so maybe They are not that bad, after all. Sorry, bad joke. Coping mechanism.
Oh yes, trauma. I lost Jenny just when things were on the turn. And I ask you not to misunderstand me, I was devastated right there. I needed that week off. And most of her family was still around, so a proper funeral and everything. I come back, and all of a sudden bereavement is worth a morning off while you arrange to dispose of the physical evidence and in after lunch. People give me some nasty looks, but I think to myself that it is hardly my fault if the world goes into shock and I miss it.
There was a fizzer on the tube back. I hate those. The noise they make. Old fellow, and it struck me how rarely you see one of those. The men in particular. A real old school gent, he even took the time to apologise when the blood got loud enough to be heard over the train noise. And then the stress and the mess set someone else off, and by the time I get home I have to confess I am pretty fed up with the whole deal. I am not even a little bit surprised when I find her waiting for me, or when I see what has been growing in her eyes.