The first step has the most weight. My leg swings over the edge of the bed, bringing the rest of my reluctant body along with it. Hardly a body at this moment, more of a corpse, which is fitting as the next few steps I take are somewhat zombie like, as a consequence of my minds inability to properly communicate with my body. My arms droop from my slumped shoulders, and my legs move with the stiffness of stilts. If not for the intolerable pressure mounting in my bladder, felt somewhere behind my crotch, I would not have made the effort to remove my body from its nest.
Relief is the first sensation I experience beyond numbness as I let the pressure release from my bladder. I flush, and I observe the swirling whirlpool in the toilet bowl. It takes effort to keep my eyes open against the force of heavy eyelids, and I struggle to comprehend how this same body has in the past managed to push itself up the sides of hills and mountains.
With some force, I turn the cold tap, and allow the running water to wash over my hands and through my fingers. Then I allow my head to drop below the tap, and take a long sip. I quickly spit it back out, as I shudder. My body shivers as if it were vodka or gin I’d tried to drink, rather than water. The bathroom light flickers. Not bright enough to strain my eyes. I dare not open the curtains; I dare not expose myself to the light from outside. This room is my space. If it were not for the needs of my body, I would have stayed half-alive in my nest. I would have allowed my head to remain buried in the pillow, and remained within the snake-like constriction of my sheets. Now that I have left the bed it will transform. The pillow will be stone, the sheets a vale, I cannot return to it.
I pull at last night’s muddied clothing. My trousers drop from my body. From the corner of my eye I see myself in the bathroom mirror. In my zombie-like state I struggle to identify with the body in the mirror. I observe the creature. Thinly pointed limbs. I run my fingers over its tightly stretched skin. I relish its dryness. Crooked knees. The awkward flab of meat drooping between its legs. The uncanny absence of prominent breasts at its chest, without which its pointed nipples are rendered valueless.
The shower-head bursts into life with relentless energy. The shock of a cold torrent thudding against my body causes me to gasp violently, like a swimmer taking a breath as she pushes her head up from under the water. As the shower warms, I feel heat course through my entire body. Disparate images flood my imagination, rivers and canals, damns bursting open as the sun rises over the horizon. The water runs for five minutes, and then stops as suddenly as it started. It leaves nothing but a casual drip drop from the tip of the shower-head. I step out and my body is shaking, but I feel rejuvenated. I take another sip of water from the cold tap and it runs smoothly down my throat.
As I brush mint toothpaste against my sore gums, I unintentionally catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. For the split second that I fail to recognise myself, I see the creature, and the smile lingering somewhere behind its eyes.
I step out of the bathroom, and thoughtlessly flick open the curtains so that I can peer at the street below. Commuters, children, cars. A man in a hoody pushes his way out of the tacky vape shop across the street. Two old ladies are stood bickering outside of the church next door to that. A woman with a coffee in one hand sticks her middle finger up at a Mercedes driver with the other. It seems he cut her off as she tried to cross the street. On the pavement below me, I can see a girl in school uniform staring at her phone as she walks. I trace her movements until she escapes my field of view, then I let the curtain fall and resign myself to getting dressed for work.