It is morning. I have just finished breakfast. I am wearing a suit and a tie and I look in the mirror before leaving the house and smooth back my hair and pick a tooth. Outside it is sunny. Not warm or cold. An absence of temperature. It is stale. Windless. I open the car door and thick red paint pours out like water bursting from a dam filmed in slow motion. It keeps flowing and flowing and pools at my feet rising higher, higher, closer to my knees.
From over the hedge a faceless man in a white coat is beckoning to me. Bearded, no eyes and no mouth, he is seamless, a balloon full of flour sucked in the cupboard of the first bedroom I didn’t share with my sister. I try to move towards him but my feet are stuck in the paint. The wheels detach from the car and each wheel has a face, an angry mocking face, the face of a man with a hooked nose and black eyes. The wheels and their faces are as red as the paint. They roll away teasing me, their vile scarlet tongues flapping raspberries.
My teeth ache as my mouth stretches in a cry as I suddenly fall forwards. I don’t hit the paint but continue to fall into a red world but now it changes to a blue and back to red then to a black with a hundred fizzing stars like the back of your eyelid when you press your fingers against your eyes. Suddenly a hundred eggs spin into my orbit. some crack and their oozing translucent juice clings to my skin and snakes around my fingers and up my arms, into my mouth, my hair. The eggs turn into open, leaking blue pills. The faceless man appears, much further away in the void, he is still beckoning me, beckoning me, and beckoning me –
“Ed. Ed. Edward.”
I open my eyes. I am on the floor next to the bed. Exhausted, I blink away the dream.
“You were talking in your sleep. You’ve never done that before,” Kit said, looking down on me from the hillock of the bed.
“It was. It was just a dream,” I say. I get up on one shoulder and find myself brushing my front down. The translucent juice –
“Some dream. Who were you talking to?”
“What was I saying?” I shake my head.
“It’s okay Kit, it was just a dream.”
I sit up on the bed and put a hand on her shoulder. She rests her head in my lap.
“You were just saying ‘Please.’”
“Nothing else?” I press.
“No. Nothing else,” she says.
I’m sitting on the sofa in the living room watching animals on the muted television. A chimp is picking lice from an infant’s head whilst grinning monkeys hang from nearby trees, laughing, picking at their assholes and dropping banana rinds for the ants on the jungle floor. The mother’s breasts are drooped, chapped like well-used lipstick, suckled on by an infant with filmed eyes. It’s three forty am. I cannot escape the dream. I’ll try to distract myself. Tonight Sally and her boyfriend Christian are coming for dinner. I haven’t told Kit about my visit to Ruth, I couldn’t bring myself to mention the baby. If she knows already then she knows, if she doesn’t then…
Her voice startles me. I don’t turn around.
“You have to talk to me,” she says, commandingly.
“I don’t know.”
She walks up behind me and puts two hands on my shoulders.
“What is wrong with you?” she asks.
“I don’t want to. I don’t want to upset you.”
Her hands clench a little tighter, “Upset me?”
“Yes. I am, I have. The visit to Ruth’s,” I pause for a moment, I shouldn’t tell her, it feels like a lie, but, but – “Did you know Sally is pregnant?”
Silence. Her hands still their massaging movement. I turn my face upwards towards her. She is staring at the television. The jungle is reflected in her eyes.
“Well, she is. Ruth is still together, too, for the most –“
“I don’t care about Ruth,” she says.
“I’m sure she was going to tell me, to tell me tonight.”
“I did think that,” I say, grabbing her hands.
I cannot tell her anything else about the dream.
“You have to be strong for me. The baby was yours as much as it was mine. I can’t do this without you, Ed. You know that. I don’t want you losing your mind down here. It’s almost four. You’re watching monkeys,” says Kit, leaning down to put her face next to mine.
I start to laugh, but catch myself.. “I know. I just. I find it soothing. But you are right.”
“Let’s sleep,” I whisper.
I grab her from behind on the stairs and kiss her neck and let her lead me upstairs. I feel nothing and it scares me but fear is better than loneliness. There is an empty hole. Filling the hole with anything makes the dream stay away. It makes the end stay away.