It is still.
It is dark.
It is so very still that the air feels oppressive. As I get out of bed I notice that my partner does not move. So deep in slumber is he, he could be dead. Unmoving, barely breathing. Only the heat from his body tells me otherwise.
What woke me?
I blink, trying to refocus, encouraging some – any – light from outside into my pupils.
Something heavy is on my legs. The cat. She, too, is barely moving.
The silence and stillness is eerie.
I raise and walk to the kitchen. I trail my fingertips along the wall as I step, to make sure I do not stumble.
The glow from the intercom illuminates the kitchen, and in the soft neon blueness I see my way to the tap. My favourite blue tumbler is on the sink, waiting.
Greedily, I gulp. So thirsty.
My eyes stray outside the open french doors to the yard.
Barely anything is visible. Still nothing moves. There are no leaves to rustle, no bats to call, no night birds chuffing.
It’s like everything has stopped. Outside my rooms, nothing exists.
Blackness, darkness, stillness, nothing.
I look over to the hound. He too, sleeps the slumber of the almost dead. The tiny rise and fall of his massive black furry chest the only sign his heart beats still.
Too quiet. Too, too quiet. The clock is not ticking – why? The hands tell me it stopped at 2.51. The face tells me nothing.
I drink again, and as I move the glass to the tap to rinse, I hear a soft chink. I run my finger over the lip. I feel the sliver as it enters my finger. Damn. I have chipped it. My favourite glass.
Sucking the blood from my fingers, I pad my way back to my room.
My bedpartner has not moved. The cat has not moved. The clock has not moved. Only I, only I have moved.
I climb back into bed and look around the blackness. It still feels close, cloying, oppressive.
I slide my feet under the cat, pull up the covers and drift back to sleep.
The sound of birds awakens me, a sunshine plays on my arms as it sneaks through the window. The smell of hot tea wafts from the kitchen. The cat, performing her daily ablutions, blinks at me from her spot on the sunny windowsill.
As I walk out to the kitchen, I see the bed partner and the hound out by the pool, playing with palm fronds. The door is closed, locked, the key hangs by the window.
My favourite blue tumbler is in the cupboard behind the glass door. Dry, away, home. Perfect.
Out of the corner of my eye I see the clock – the small hand sweeps a circle, tocking loudly.
I didn’t stop, it tells me. You did.