The clock said January; somewhere around the start of it to be more precise. I was coming up from sleep and the world was waiting, but not with baited breath. We had been here before.
At the side of me was the warmth. The pillow was depressed and the duvet was pulled back, just enough for a quiet escape. I think that there was the scent of perfume loitering from the previous night. The shower was running. I turned over and reached for the cup of tea that had been placed on my bedside cabinet, still warm. I sat myself upright, adjusted the pillows to support me, and took the first sip.
With the collar of my coat pulled up as defence against the dark morning, I walked, head down, into the rush-hour. Usually, there are more people around and that is a little comforting in the way that people find solace in the shared pain of others.
The guy who works at the newspaper stand always greets me with the same, “How’s today treating you?” And I always respond with, “Like a special guest.” It’s one of those exchanges that has become a part of the morning experience, shared lines that we don’t wish to deviate from. I have the feeling that if I was to suddenly fire back with a different response such as, “…”, our roles will be changed. In truth, these are our lines, have always been our lines. It’s the way it is.
I know that I get on a tube after that. The carriage will be not as full as I had remembered and I will put this down to the post-Christmas hang-over. And when I arrive at work, I will not be surprised to see that a number of colleagues are not at their desks, not in front of computer screens that still wear the reminders of the festive days that I know we have enjoyed. Yet when trying to recall the details of events as I reach for my apartment keys at the end of the day, I only have a smattering of blurred moments, moments that could have been from anybody’s Christmas narrative.
The shower is running again and an open bottle of red wine sits beside a glass.