I gave up trying to get to sleep. Again. The horrid virus that laid me low cleared up nicely, only to be replaced by another that has left me with the misery of nightly earache, along with the various other sore and swollen bits that just have to be waited out. My back is strung tighter than a violin, I ache and I was fed up of tossing and turning. After several sleelpess nights and with a non-functioning brain, I threw on the dressing gown and wandered into the jungle.
No, I’m not hallucinating… at night my living room comes to life.
It is a tiny space, and between the desk, sofa, fish tank and bookcase, the walls are fully occupied… except for the one that is almost entirely made of the glass doors into the garden. At night, as soon as the lights go on, these are covered in moths and the occasional adventurous slug, all seeking ingress through the transoms. I close the curtains to save Ani from doing her duty defending the property against invaders… It is a lot of glass from which to clean nose prints.
Beetles that have found their way in scutter across the floor as do house-spiders as big as mice. Their slightly smaller cousins populate the ceiling and the huge plectosomous prowls the tank looking like an aquatic dimetrodon.
I wonder, briefly, how my arachnophobic son ever survived living here.
I spend some time explaining to Ani that she is not getting the doors opened as usual; there is obviously a hedgehog snuffling outside the door and the rest of the neighbourhood probably doesn’t want to be woken by frantic barking at stupid o’clock. She amuses herself pouncing on spiders and trying to squeeze her nose under the sofa when they escape.
There is a lot of work I need to be doing, but I can’t think straight enough. Can’t even concentrate on anything but the lightest and best known of books…. you know, the ones where you can mindlessly read several pages without taking in a word but still keep track of the story, because you’ve read it so often. I have to be up by six and, at one in the morning, I am wide awake. when I should be asleep.
Instead, I watch the creatures.
The few remaining flies have been woken by the light. They do what flies do, jerkily flying and landing wherever they can be most annoying. The spiders build webs that I will have to remove, only for them to rebuild, while the house-spiders lie in wait and pounce on unsuspecting prey. The dog pounces on anything that moves and the plec, having finished his chunk of zucchini, makes a start on the methodical nightly scouring of the algae in the aquarium; by morning the greening rocks and glass will be clean.
Everything in the house is doing what it is supposed to be doing… what it was designed to do.
It makes me wonder just how far humankind has strayed from its design and how many of our problems are directly attributable to the unnatural lifestyle we have created for ourselves. We wake, sleep and eat by the clock, not when our bodies tell us it is right to do so. Instead of using our voices, we use our fingertips. When the sun goes down, we switch on the lights and extend day into night. We buy ourselves time…and spend it working or assaulting our senses with stimuli… we are a long way from our natural state.
I have no answers to that one. We are caught in a trap of our own making. Like it or not, weekend or not, the alarm will sound at dawn, even if, by then, I am sound asleep. And I will obey.
For now, though, I am turning off the lights, slipping out past the dog into the garden and going to watch the stars.