“What are you staring at?”
“We are watching you unravelling.”
“There’s a word for that, a German word like watching people in road accidents”.
“Please don’t get distracted. Continue unravelling.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
“We’ve been watching you. You won’t be able to prevent it.”
They were right. I was like one of those wall-mounted paper towel dispensers.
Once the roll starts unravelling there’s no stopping it and I wasn’t done yet. There was still a metre or more of me to go.
I am reading a book of very strange stories.
One of them is called ‘Falling Awake’.
It is only six sentences long.
Here it is in its entirety:
I have no trouble falling asleep.
I have a lot of trouble falling awake.
Sometimes I sleep ten to twelve hours a day before snailing towards the light.
One day I will fall asleep and not fall awake or fall awake and not fall asleep.
Neither prospect daunts me.
I like adventures; no matter how short.
No one saw it coming. Least of all me. I was happily ensconced in a book when it EXPLODED. Such was its force that it blew the toupee off the man in front of me and propelled the stationary bus in which we were sitting two metres forward. The sneezer himself, a dread locked man in a canary yellow suit, whooshed around the aisle of the bus startling passengers until suitably deflated he flopped beside me flatulent as a whoopee cushion.
He laughed loudly.
A door closed behind him.
He laughed more loudly still.
Another door closed behind him. Slammed!
He continued. He chortled. He guffawed. He split his sides.
A text message came through.
“Will you STOP laughing, please? You’re annoying me.”
No, he said to himself. No. It’s my house and I’ll laugh if I want to.
And he laughed even more loudly.
The walls laughed with him. They too were beginning to split their sides.
A door opened quietly behind him.
The man was too busy laughing to notice.
He stifled his laughter as the cord tightened around his throat.
This was no laughing matter.
You open your mouth. A pink hippo comes out. You scratch your ear, a purple gorilla. You blow your nose, a polka dot egret. You pass wind, an emerald marmoset. You wonder what will come next. You go to the toilet. You piss piranhas. Defecate falcons. Can I have some more you ask the anaesthetist but the anaesthetist has gone, the effects wearing off just as an oleaginous eel slithers from the long wound in your leg from which the surgeon removed veins for your blocked arteries.
Shelby was disgusted.
She would sleep that night in the refrigerator.
She admired its stern solidity.
At least the mice couldn’t get to her.
And if she felt like a midnight snack, she wouldn’t have far to go.
She hopped in.
It wasn’t long before her teeth began chattering. That would keep her awake. Give her away if he was still in the house.
So she bit down on a leg of lamb.
That seemed to work.
She drifted off dreaming of sheep in thick woolen jumpers serially hurdling fences.
The bus shelter at the end of our street grinds its teeth at night.
Sometimes I sit with it, hold its hand, listen to its tale
of drunks and suicides,
of lycanthropes baying at the full moon,
of lonesome Lotharios weeping in their fists
I talk to it too about my problems
Of the jig-saw days when pieces don’t fit
Of the times when your heart races
Like a wildebeest on the veldt
But latches onto nothing.
After a while we both settle
and I head off home
beneath a lopsided moon.