Monday, June 21, 2010

Creatures of the Night

I rarely sleep longer than about three hours at a stretch these nights. I wake and hear the creatures that live beneath our house start moving trucks. They reverse and stop, go forward and then stop again, on and on; the longer I listen the louder it gets. I try and imagine who they are, these creatures. I think they are small and squat with impassive cuboid faces, and mouths that never move, a lipless line. They are grimy and coloured only in the way a a moonlit scene is coloured: grey-red, grey-brown, grey-blue, but mostly grey-grey, the colour of water used for too many pans.Some might say these creatures are selfish, but really they are not. It is what they do. As we live by day so they try to sleep too, and grumble at our lack of consideration. Sometimes I wonder what their ancestors did before there were engines, and I think maybe they rolled drums full of water; drums not of steel, but skin and wood.

So what can I do to chase away the noise these creatures make? Last night I went to my study and switched on the Mac. I listened to McEwan's Solar and it seemed that every word delighted me. Eventually I plugged in my earphones and listened in bed, and night became day, and the birds started taking gasps of breath to sing as loudly as they could, and the creatures beneath our house became sluggish, and then, as the narrator of the book went on, began to fall asleep too.

I woke then, and there were pieces of the McEwan that I'd missed, and there was nothing else to do but play them again. At last the book was finished, and I decided that the book was, in the end, about love. I found it very touching. Altogether a great book.

I have no idea what I did the rest of the day. I answered emails. I downloaded some more audiobooks, and now have a Zadie Smith's On Beauty, Sebastian Barry's Secret Scripture, and Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore waiting for me when life resumes to normal and I take my place in the gym. Then tonight I marzipanned my cake.

For now the grey creatures are quiet. But then they only come out in the middle of the night. They thrive, I know, on my fears. When they come close my rib cage seems to flex and then tighten. You are not here, I tell them. But they know that they are.


Post a Comment

Comments are subject to moderation.

<< Home