I go to bed late but I still can’t sleep. It’s too warm and I keep turning over, throwing the covers off me and trembling each time I hear a noise through the open window.
I’m up several times during the night. It never seems to get properly dark during June.
As I lie there, afraid and praying for sleep, I think about the usual things – work, money, my family. I think about the weekend just past, the glorious sunshine and the wonderful solace of being with family.
I suppose I must have eventually dropped off because the alarm terrifies and confuses me with it’s hideous metallic horn. I sit upright quickly, every sinew of my body and their connecting messages with my brain calling out desperately for more rest.
I get up quickly. I know from past experience this is best. Then I stumble downstairs holding the bannister for comfort, still somewhere between awake and asleep.
I contemplate breakfast but decide I can’t face it today. Instead I iron my son’s school uniform and stand under a tepid shower, allowing the spray to bounce off my skull, hoping it will replenish some energy.
I kiss my sleeping wife and son goodbye. The joy of the weekend just past making the separation now a little more bitter.
I drive automatically along the motorway towards the city, changing the station on the wireless several times until I give up and snap the dial off. I prefer the silence now anyway.
I park in my usual spot and walk along the road, where shops and offices are opening and people are reluctantly dragging themselves to face the new week.
I’m still not quite alert, my brain feels like wet sand and the muscles in my arms and legs scream out in protest over my insistence on moving around. My stomach is unsettled, I know I’m hungry but unable to face food.
Despite my lethargy I find myself noticing lots of detail. Two empty, crushed Guinness cans on the pavement beside the bus shelter. The arm protruding from the sleeping bag in the doorway of the church. The crow dragging the empty plastic bottle, larger than its body, across the spring grass.
I stop at the coffee shop, my usual buffer before work. The friendly Eastern European woman knows my order without having to ask and reminds me to produce my loyalty card.
‘Just two more and you get one for free’, she tells me.
I go to my usual seat and study the faces, some are regulars, some new. There’s the guy in the tweed jacket with his laptop, who I’ve long ago decided is an academic. The woman who wears the black sandals who has a different book everyday. The older woman who ties her dog to the railings outside and then picks the window seat with a clear view of it.
I check the time on my watch, working out how many minutes I’ve got before I go to work. Then I begin to count them down.
My coffee is cool enough to drink now and I start to sip at the bitter, black liquid, hoping it can restore something in me.
The weekend has never seemed further away. It’s a miserable Monday morning.