The next morning I awake in my clothes, on one side of my double bed. I’ll never understand the dynamics of a double-bed. When you share one with someone you always tend towards the middle and each other, and then when you are alone again you take over the whole thing. If you haven’t shared a double bed in a long time then you revert to sleeping on one side, well, I do anyway.
I haven’t shared my bed in years, not until recently with Jules anyway, and I’m not sure fully-clothed and barely under the covers counts. I roll my feet round and down onto the floor, feeling the last few centimetres gently, in case my feet get shocked by landing on the carpet and creaky floorboards. I look around my room. It’s always pretty neat and tidy, but a room this size has to be. There’s the double bed filling two fifths, a small computer desk and a bookshelf, leading to the door. I have a small cupboard at the end that goes above the stairs down to the rest of the flat. The large double window fills almost one whole side of the room, looking out over flats and houses, facing East I think. I look out at the trees dotted around, like green islands in a sea of grey concrete. The leaves are all turning brown and it makes the whole vista seem cooler and less lush. The trees are in that wonderful transition, from green, dense, verdant vegetation, with just the hint of yellow and brown on the leaves near the top and sides. Some trees are more brown than others, showing just a handful of green leaves deep in the core of the branches, whereas some are only just showing the signs of the season. I stretch out my arms and immediately feel self-conscious, imagining how silly I’d look if someone was watching me.
I turn and head out down the stairs to take a shower, bringing my towel and toilet bag with me. I nearly trip at the top of the stairs when I realise the bright light filling the hallway is another glimmer. I am walking about a foot behind myself, watching my own body walk down the stairs and go into the bathroom. This is so weird, I literally stop dead, teetering on the top step, to watch this event unfold below me. I can’t comprehend what I’m watching, so I run down the stairs and step out through the door onto the balcony next to the steps down to the street. I stand there, breathing heavily, and looking all around me, trying to make sense of what is happening. Before I have a chance to take stock the light shines all around me and I again see myself walking, just a small way in front of me, back towards the house. I watch as I open the door, go through and turn into the bathroom. At the same time another me comes out of the bathroom, towel wrapped around my waist, and heading back up to my room. Of all the things I’ve seen in my life, both real and imaginary, this has got to be the least realistic, it’s like a cartoon or a comic book, but I can see it and feel it. What on earth can I do now? Do I just stand here and watch all these different me’s heading off in different directions, doing different things. It reminds me of a Calvin and Hobbes strip where Calvin creates a number of clones. It feels like that, that these are uncontrollable versions of me, autonomous and operating independently of any of the others, including me.
I take a seat on the old bench by the fence and look straight up, looking into the sky at clouds passing above me. This is crazy. This is insane. But I don’t feel any of the old feelings, my thoughts aren’t racing, my brain isn’t in a state, like it usually is. I don’t feel the way I did, and have done, for the past few years. This is different, and all at once I realise I’m not anxious. Afraid yes, but with good reason. I am totally delusional, watching this whole madness unravel before my eyes. Just plain mental. There’s nothing I can do. I go in and take a shower, brushing past another me going out the front door and sitting on the step. I laugh as the water runs over me. I decide I’ve finally snapped, gone over the edge, a cloud of dust floating out over the precipice of oblivion. At least there’s no discomfort now, and it’s like a huge release of pressure rushing through me in waves, up and down my body, like the rising waves of ecstasy.
Back in my room the number of other me’s is growing exponentially, all of them glimmering and bright. I dress, as are at least ten other me’s, choosing slightly different underwear and clothes than I can see around me. I follow, and am followed by a chain of me’s, down the stairs. Some of us go out the front door, others into the bathroom, some are doing their hair, some are pissing. I brush my teeth and do my hair, then out the door and down the stairs. I notice as I walk away from the flat the number of different me’s are reducing, becoming more sparse. I walk up to the park and see the last me disappear into the shop. I’m on my own again, apart from the other people, who are not at all on my mind right now. I sit down in the park, the cool autumn day means I get a bench to myself. I take a deep breath and relax. I don’t have to worry about anything any more, I’m quite mad. I sit back and smile as a torso and legs move out of me and stand up.
As this other me, wearing blue jeans instead of the cargo’s I opted for, walks across back towards the road I think to myself “if that were me, I’d stop right now and look up”. To my utter surprise this other me stops dead, looks up, looks back down, turns and looks straight at me. I say “um” out loud, as I really can’t do anything else. I’m looking straight at myself, and even from this distance I can see straight into my own eyes. “Um”. I stand up and walk towards the small cobbled road off to the left and go into the pub on the corner, the one with the majestic renaissance friezes upstairs.