Sunday, 29 April 2012

We're No Here



(Mogwai - We're No Here)

He woke exhausted from a night when his dreams had felt like he had been awake, and the times that he was awake had felt like a dream. Once, he'd woken to a dull low rumbling sound, as if a heavy lorry had been driving slowly past, but he was too tired to do anything other than register annoyance and then slide back to sleep. Now the sun made the blinds into squares of soft yellow, and he stretched and luxuriated in just being there, doing nothing. Evie must have got up early and quiet and taken the kids out, because no-one was running around screaming, or hitting a toy repeatedly against a door, or bouncing on the end of the bed. He lay there for a little longer, content because it was a Saturday, and because he appreciated the gesture from his wife.

When he started to fall asleep again, he made himself get up, because it was gone nine and if he went back to sleep he'd wake up with a terrible headache. He staggered into the shower, bleary and in need of coffee. He turned on the little waterproof portable radio shaped like a crocodile, but all he could get was static, so he tried to make a mental note to buy batteries when they went to the supermarket that afternoon, but knew he would probably forget. The first thing he did when he got downstairs was switch the coffee machine on, and while it was hissing and filling the kitchen with the smell of wakefulness, he took a mug from the tree, ate a biscuit and felt guilty about it because he was trying to lose a few pounds, and flicked the CD player on, switched it to radio.

It hissed, and he played with the tuner, but got nothing. He frowned and wandered through to the sitting room with his coffee, picked up the remote and switched on the TV, and saw Evie's purse, keys and phone on the little table next to the end of the couch where she always sat. Turned, and saw Jake's pushchair in the corner. The TV came on, with a hiss.

He ran up the stairs, and checked the kids' bedrooms, but there was nothing there except the usual mess and clutter, so he ran back into his room and pulled on last night's t-shirt and his jeans, ran down the stairs and forced his feet into his trainers that he had pulled off without undoing the laces, and was out of the door.

It was a beautiful morning, with a clear pale blue sky, and the air felt fresh and smelt of spring. A soft breeze shivered the leaves of the shrubs in their tiny front garden, and he heard it so clearly because there were no cars driving down their street, and no sound of engines and bus air-brakes from the main road just twenty yards away. None of the neighbours were starting their weekend DIY, no kids were riding bikes on the pavement, no-one stood bored and staring into space while their dog pissed up a garden wall.

He looked up, and he remembered Evie's concerns about being on the flight path and so close to the airport, and how their friends who lived a couple of streets away had told them that although yes, the planes were always coming and going there wasn't really much noise, and what there was you didn't notice after a month or two anyway, and it was worth it for the lower house prices and the excellent school. He looked up, staring at the pale blue sky, that stretched high and empty above him.

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