The Dream

I dreamed last night that you had died.

I woke up breathless in the dark, distraught and disoriented at your absence in the bed next to me before my thoughts gathered clarity, and I remembered that you were working nights this week.
I slid out of bed to fetch a glass of water, hoping to calm my racing heart. My shoulders hunched against the chilly air, bare feet pat-pattered on the cheap kitchen lino. The water from the kitchen tap falling onto glass felt like an assault to my ears in the peaceful 3am silence, as loud as a rushing waterfall.

I shuffled back to bed, but I could not sleep.

At 6am the alarm shrieked, and once again I reluctantly abandoned our bed, mechanically observing the morning rituals, those small preparations for daily integration into the world outside. I slumped over a bowl of cold cereal, first coffee of the day bitter and hot on my chilly lips. Then it was time to go to work, our paths failing to cross on this occasion.

With dull eyes, I took the familiar path from our small terraced home to the office building at the edge of town. On the trees which served to break up the drab monotony of grey stone streets, the morning dew still glistened and a light mist had yet to lift completely, lending a grim surreality to the world which passed me by. When I reached my desk, I sent you a text message. I didn’t know if you’d be home yet, or if you’d already gone to bed. I just wanted to tell you that I love you.

I drifted through the morning in that flat, emotionless way that a bad nights sleep can produce. Punctuating the day with endless cups of coffee, I immersed myself in the relentless glare of my computer screen, avoided conversation and all attempts to engage me in the social conventions of office life. The voices echoed in my head, and I chased my lunchtime coffee with two painkillers.
By early afternoon the attempts at conversation had ceased. I wilted my way through the remainder of the day, and left early at 4pm. The mist had long since lifted by then, but my tired eyes produced a shimmering mirage over everything I passed. Silent strangers glided by, never making eye contact, at my side in a heartbeat, and gone again the next, and I reached the corner of our street.
I unlocked the door, my shouted hello echoing through the house, knowing that you’d be awake by now, and looking forward to spending a rare few hours alone together.

My eyes opened suddenly and I squinted against the morning light pouring in through unfamiliar curtains, sending small rays of brightness dancing across the single bed whose sheets I lay tangled between. And I knew.

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