Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Missing hours

I don't remember when exactly this happened. I was seventeen or eighteen, I think. Still at school, doing my a-levels, and living with my parents. I remember that it was a day much like this one  -- a cold, sodden day on the dreary side of Christmas. One of my teachers was off sick, so I'd been home since about 2pm. The house was empty and silent aside from the odd knocking noise or crack or creak. I was sitting on the end of my bed, reading a book or doing some homework, I don't remember exactly. It was boring. I guess I fell asleep.

I had a strange, incoherent dream peppered with odd details that seemed to hint at some awareness of the world around me. Crows bellowed in my face and doorbells rang, my arm went numb. After some indeterminate amount of time, it all exploded with sharp, deafening noise. I don't know what the noise was, I later decided that it must have been the phone ringing, but with my mind mostly asleep it was just formless sound. Accompanied by this piercing klaxon soundtrack the dream became even stranger and more distorted. I started feeling panicky and trapped. I had the strange feeling that comes from screaming in a dream and, in some muffled and distant way, hearing your own voice echoing in your ears.


I was standing in the kitchen. My hair was disheveled and my clothes were all rumpled and askew. For a moment there was just complete blankness. My legs ached and my head hurt. I looked at the light from next door's patio and wondered why I was standing in the dark. I switched the lights on over the countertop and glanced up at the clock.


I was up early today.

I pulled open the cupboard and took down the box of cereal. There wasn't any milk so I just sat at the kitchen table eating a dry, crusty brick of weatabix and gulping at a glass of water. It was odd that my parents weren't up yet. I couldn't even hear the faint drone of their clock radio.

Having decided that dry weatabix was, in fact, a terrible idea, I got up and looked around for my bag. I eventually found it in my bedroom, in the attic. My school books were scattered across my desk, my homework half done. I must have fallen asleep mid-way through. While I was gathering up my books and wondering why no-one had woken me up for dinner, I started to get the unsettling feeling that something wasn't right. My bedsheets were tangled and knotted, bunched into a ball at the foot of the bed. Try as I might, I couldn't actually remember getting up or getting dressed. In fact, come to think of it, wasn't I wearing these clothes yesterday?

I stood there for a while, trying to decide whether to change into a fresh shirt. ultimately my laziness triumphed over my admittedly feeble sense of propriety, and I walked back downstairs. On the first floor landing I stopped and poked the door to my parents' bedroom open with my foot.

The room was empty. For a moment I thought that perhaps they'd gotten up and gone downstairs while I was in my room, but I'd heard nothing and could hear nothing still. Sure enough it was just as empty downstairs as it had been before.

I was now very confused. I must have forgotten something. Perhaps dad had a meeting and mum had to go into work early? I couldn't remember anything being mentioned but, then again, I couldn't remember very much at all. Was I drunk?

I figured these mysteries could wait until later, and heaved my bag onto my shoulder. I popped in my headphones and opened the front door. It's English Literature this morning isn't it, Ms Long still pushing us through Dr Faustus.


I was fumbling with my keys, trying to lock the front door when my little sister tapped me on the shoulder. She was holding a bag of shopping. Mum was standing behind her. She asked where I was going this evening. I stared blankly at her for a good few seconds trying to figure out why she'd gone shopping at six o'clock in the morning before it clicked into place.


I still think of that day when I'm asked how long it's been since my last siezure. If I'm only counting the grand mal monsters -- the ones where my body jerks and flails like a broken robot or the hero of a really glitchy videogame -- then I've been seizure free since I was fourteen. I know, however, that there are other ways that the wires can cross.