08 January 2007

Mirror Mirror

Not awake but certainly no longer asleep, lying awake in nothing but a loose twisted sheet and a darkness that pours over the outline of everything in the room, robbing everything of colour; you realise that you're not in your own apartment in the same instant that you remember why you ended up at his place. Easing out of bed to find something on the floor, any item of clothing to cover the part of your naked body responsible for getting you in this situation, you find something that isn't sticky and in less than a minute you're silently groping at a handle on the inner door.

Standing paralysed by cold or something, looking across a strange living room that reeks like a stale ashtray, a sharp pain reminds of what prompted you to wake up in the first place. That smell reminds you of a half-acknowledged wave from a flatmate on the way into that bedroom- was he Polish or Italian, babbling into a telephone in one hand, a cigarette dangling from the other?- and forward you dart towards to find –shit! fuck! shit, shit fuck!- three doors, all of which are shut.

Outside each one you perform a little naked dance of impatience, relieved to hear breathing heavier than your own inside one room; he's definitely an Italian with that snore.

Wrenching open the middle door, at the sight of a sink you hesitate, although what you’re looking for is behind the last door. Light switch hidden, you don’t care whether this porcelain receptacle is a bide because you're incapable of caring about anything until…

A melodic tingling reassures you that it has all landed where it should.

Semi-articulate, not yet capable of semi-coherent thought, it is now that you make a fatal mistake, groping around to find a switch. A florescent light comes with a loud snap.

It’s not your first glimpse of a white tiled bathroom that disturbs, even though it hasn’t been properly cleaned this century. Face open with horror, you move backwards, forwards, sideways… but your reflection follows, refusing to look better from any angle, staring out with a kind of blank distress that is but a pale reflection of what you're feeling at this moment. What fiendish blend of alcohol has reduced you to... this?

There was a time you could get away with doing what you just realised you shouldn't have done; in fact, you could do it several nights in a row, and maybe it doesn’t feel so long ago you think...

But no: you can't get away with it any more, not even once.

With a vow that it's the last time ever; from this moment on it's another part of your past that you're determined to forget... but no, you can't forget, otherwise there's a risk you'll do exactly the same thing again.

In the midst of all this, you recall the man whose bed you have just crawled out of: you've seen him around often enough to know that his excessively handsome features were not an alcohol-induced delusion, and realise that in a few hours when he wakes up with that winning smile, the first thing he's going to see...

That's it: you're getting out of this apartment before first light of dawn. Light switch firmly off.

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