I wake up actually feeling more tired than before I went to sleep which indicates how run down I really am. I want the Nurofen on top of my bedside locker but don’t have the determination just yet. I lie in bed-for what seems like an eternity-absently staring into space until my mother comes in.
“So you’re alive then?”
“Just about.”
“How come you haven’t taken any Nurofen?” I stare at the tablets malevolently as if somehow it was their fault. Straight away my mother scoops them up and hands them to me with a glass of water. It takes a few seconds for the awkward silence to lapse until my mother finally breaks rank.
“So what’s going on with you?”
I don’t actually know how to begin to answer it and certainly don’t have the energy to do the question justice.
“Its work,” I say which sounds so pitiful and inadequate that I immediately regret it.
“It’s just…kind of…I don’t know…spiralled out of control a bit.”
I don’t know how to possibly explain the finer details; of how my lesbian boss is in cahoots with my old boss to run me out of the company, that my workload is slowly killing me, or that I’m stuck in the middle of a fucked up love triangle, and how everything I touch basically turns to shit.
“Well if it’s really that bad you should just quit,” which instantly makes my chest feel tighter. It’s without doubt my most hated sentence in the English language. I detest its simplicity and the way it’s so hippyishly all-encompassing as if I quitting my job will suddenly make all my problems disappear. What next “If it feels good do it?”
“It’s not that simple Mam.”
“Of course it is. Look at the state of yourself. Ever since you arrived here you’ve been all shaky Stevens-you’re a mess.”
“I’m not that bad.”
“Look at yourself? You’re wasting away. You haven’t been taking care of yourself at all. Well I can tell you this for nothing-it stops right here.”
“I mean it. No more mental nights out and falling in the door at six o’ clock in the morning. It’s nothing but food and rest for the rest of the week.”
“Haha you make me sound like a newborn.”
“I mean it.”
The rest of the day is a total non-event with my mother continually feeding me dry crackers around the clock like a parrot to rebuild my appetite. For once I’m actually relieved by the banality of it all.
I haven’t had a drink all day and for the most part, haven’t thought about one, but now laying here in bed-as the cramps attack my stomach-its all can think about. I’m sweating profusely even though I’m stone cold and although I can’t see anyone in the room I’m certain there’s a presence. I watch nervously as strange shadows leap across the ceiling before disappearing behind cupboards or curtains. I don’t know if my stomach is acting up out of fear or for want of a drink, but either way the result wouldn’t differ-I quickly propel myself out of bed and sprint to the toilet as fast as I can for what’ll be my fourth trip of the night. This time the damage isn’t too bad; I’m amazed that my urine is still a florescent toxic orange, and my ass remains raw from the last trip-but no blood. I limp back to bed visibly shaky.
Anytime I get close to sleep a body part (usually my arm or leg) violently jerks momentarily frightening me and shattering my quest for rest. My mind cruelly torments me with strange dreams that end with no conclusion and leave me gasping for air. The most recent and disturbing one took place in an old grandiose Victorian dining room with my parents, Joanne, Christina, and Roseanne as a maid. What started off as a rather timid tea party erupted into anarchy when Joanne lifted her velvet green little bo peep dress to reveal a large bump.
“It’s yours,” Joanne says returning casually to her cigarette leaving it hang in the air with the smoke.
I’m about to respond before Christina bursts into tears and exclaims “but you said you loved me.”
I want to reassure her that the wedding is still going ahead as planned but my father seizes this opportunity for himself.
“Christina while everything’s out in the open perhaps now would be the time to tell them about us my dear.” My father then begins prancing like a ballerina around the room until he kneels to a stop at Christina’s feet.
“Will you marry me?” He says kissing her hand.
I watch my mother who continues sipping away from her teacup as if nothing has happened, making sure to not spill a drop on her accompanying saucer. Right then Roseanne bursts through the door like one of the characters from an old “Carry on” film being chased by a policeman to the track of highly energetic jazz music. She’s wearing a tight black PVC nurse’s outfit that’s way too tight, which makes her fat jiggle as she bounces, crawls, darts, and dusts around the place with a manic grin painted on her face. The scene continues to play out but I’m suspended in motion until I’m about to say something, and then like all the other dreams I wake up.
“It’s okay son you were just having a bad dream.”
It’s dark but I can still make him out and am surprised to see he looks younger than when I last saw him with a full head of hair to boot.
“What do you want?”
“That’s hardly a way to greet your own father now is it son?”
A long silence follows which I have no intention of breaking as I stare hoping to break him into submission.
“Why did you do it buddy?”
“Do what?”
“Tell your mother about our trip to Bray with Suzanne. That was supposed to be our little secret.” Even now after all these years the very mention of her name makes my blood boil.
“Secret!!? You brought me to Bray with a sixteen-year-old slut you were having an affair with.”
“It wasn’t like that buddy. I only brought her along for a day out as a favour to Eddie.”
“Yeah I’m sure he high fived you all the way down the pub for stealing his daughter’s virginity.”
“You were too young to remember buddy you’ve gotten everything mixed up.”
“Ha that’s rich-you playing the age card.”
“This,” he says examining around the room with his eyes for sentimental effect “was always what I wanted-to run a pub.”
“I don’t think you understand the difference between drinking in a pub and running one.”
“This could have been ours buddy. We could have run this place together properly as a family….but you had to go running to Mammy.”
“And watch my mother suffer like you let yours-no chance.”
“No wonder you can’t even handle your drink or get it up. You’re too much of a sissy Mammy’s boy-always have been.”
“And what’s the alternative? Chop wood, and bang little girls like you? Or cheat on my wife like your father for twenty fives years?
“You ruined everything.”
“Deprived your own sister of a father.”
“And not to mention your beloved mother’s shot of happiness.”
The door bursts open and the light switch is flicked on in what seems to be one fluid motion.
“Anthony who are you talking to?” And even though I can see he’s not there I can’t stop instinctively raising my arm to point in his direction.
“Sorry Mam I was dreaming and must have been talking in my sleep.”
She hastily smiles adding, “Okay well I’ll let you get back to sleep then”.
“Night Mam.”
“Good night.”
I’m barely up out of bed but already I find myself stationed on the couch. Was I awake? Did I sleep? Was I dreaming? Did I hallucinate? The only thing I can tell that is real is my exhaustion. Last night after my father’s visit, Joanne stopped by to discuss her pregnancy, and I was so choked up by it all that my sister came in next to comfort me. Naturally, I assumed Joanne wasn’t really present but when I saw Sandra this morning she acted like nothing happened. I keep nibbling away at the crackers my mother prescribed me but all they seem to do is make me hate food even more.
I decide I don’t want to waste another day-especially cooped up inside-so I drag my corpse up off the couch and search the house for sun lounging material. The best I can come up with is some Marian Keyes chick lit but my brain is so spongy and in need of stimulation that I take it anyway.
Outside I try reading only to give up easily because the clichéd content and blazing sun make it more effort than it’s worth. I’m so intoxicated by the sun that I no longer have the desire or ability to think and revel in my mindless state. I close my eyes and for the first time in months-all I see is black, and I wish it could be more like this.

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