The Leaves Are Turning Brown – Chapter 8

Waking up hungover is equivalent to being scared by a friend.  As my eyes open I feel ok, and the light washing into my eyes feels cool and refreshing.  I lean over to get a drink, thinking I’ll make something of today, and start planning a shopping list in my head.  As I take a sip of squash an odd feeling comes over me.  The tingling in my head grows, until it begins to feel like pressure, from the inside.  My head begins to ring and the full weight of the hangover lands heavily, with a thud.  I exhale and the air comes out turbulent and stuttered.  Breathing in is the same, harsh and loud.  I feel nauseous, but the pain in my head overrides all of the other senses and feelings. I know I need to drink more fluids, but the idea of swallowing is abhorrent to me.  My body is rejecting every order coming from the brain, and just seems to lie there, placidly awaiting some kind of external force to move it.

I shiver, my whole body convulsing for a split second, and I ball up into the foetal position, eyes closed tightly, as if the harder they close the further out I can push all external stimuli.  It doesn’t work, and my eyes hurt along with the rest of me.  With the cover over my head I lie still, trying different positions of each muscle and limb, hoping there will be one configuration where everything stops hurting.  I’m finding it impossible to get comfortable, but I pull myself up and rest against my pillows, looking at the opposite wall.  I lean over and pick up my phone.  There’s just one message, and it’s from her.

My brain hasn’t fully come up to speed yet, and I start to recall the previous evening, hazily recreating the scenes and trying to get them in a sensible chronology.  There was the pub, the panic, the wave of calm, the bar, some shots, laughing, dancing. Oh my, such bad dancing. I see my arms and legs flying in different directions, pulling her around in pirouettes of unbalanced and awkward spirals. More shots, more laughing, more shots.  I can barely make out her leaving, but I can see myself walking her to the bus stop and making sure she got on ok.  I also remember her going on the underground, which is odd.  I put the two differing memories down to the alcohol and try to recall how I got home, how I got back here.  I remember walking a while, getting to the river and then getting a short taxi to the flat.  At the same time I remember a bus, but it makes no sense, unless I was so drunk I got turned around.  That must be it.

I build up the courage and energy to go downstairs and take a shower, long and hot, steaming up the entire room.  The water feels unnatural at first, but quickly soothes me.  I keep getting flashbacks too the bar, the awful dancing, and I laugh.  I’m feeling much better as I dry off, helped in no small part by the freshly cleaned towel, the minty freshness of the toothpaste and the general feeling of washing away the dirt and smell of alcohol.

As I walk into my room there’s a glimmer from the bed, which for a moment looks like someone is in there asleep, but it lasts less that a glance and is gone again.  I sit down on the bed and begin to collect my thoughts while I dress.  I’m feeling so refreshed from the shower, and so cheered by last night, that I decide to head to the shop to pick up some goodies, before coming home to watch a movie.  I don’t have anything to do today, so I decide to take it nice and easy.  Crossing the road and taking the short walk to the shop takes little time, and it’s a surprisingly warm day.  I pick up supplies, both sweet and savoury, some treats for myself for feeling good. It feels decadent, and a pang of guilt comes over for feeling like this. Time to get home again, back to safety.

Back in the flat again I walk into my room and see the same thing as before.  For the briefest of moments it appears as though someone is asleep in my bed, and it looks like me.  The sight of this shocks me, and as it flickers away there is a weird feeling of pressure in the room.  My eyes feel odd as well, like they are disconnected and looking in different directions, but at the same point. At once the feeling is gone and everything is normal again.  I look around the room, and notice my phone again, the unread message icon on the lock screen.

I’m feeling anxious about the message, so lie on the bed, take out a doughnut, and prepare to read the text. Picking up the phone and unlocking the screen is hard with one hand, but I open the message:

“Wow! Just, wow. I’ve been smiling all morning. Let’s do it again! J xx”.

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