I awaken with a start from sleep that should be restful; repose and recuperation.
And yet my slumber brings no peace. I admit, no demons stalk the empty corridors of my sleep. No, they are not nocturnal. Every waking hour they roost upon my shoulder, nuzzle at my ear, and whisper torments of nothing and everything.
No monsters lurk in the empty rooms under dusty, unused beds, or in dark cupboards that creak under the weight of childish things. Of memories, of good times.
What pursue me in my dreams are lies. False memories. Reflections of what I fear and love the most, but what simply cannot hurt me now. Abandonment, and constant censure of my failures, mistakes and negligence.
But was this ever so ? I was never thus discouraged, and absence prevents them doing so now. Why then does it hurt ?
Larkin was right. “They f**k you up, your mum and dad, They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had. And add some extra, just for you.”
But knowing “This be the Verse” to be so redolently true, why do I still succumb to somnolent torment? When I close my eyes, to rest my body, soul, my brain, why does a battle rage in my subconscious. The dead and walking wounded loiter on the field to shape and influence my waking hours.
This taste of sleep that lingers like garlic or raw onion sets forth my outlook on the day. A Duvet shrouded, solitary indolence of reading and books. A manic striving to create what is ultimately, pointless and irreverent.
Or simply being a good dad, ignoring those whispers, entertaining the only truly ‘good’ thing I have ever achieved.
“Get out as early as you can, And don’t have any kids yourself” he concludes. But even the after-taste of night terror will never see me acquiesce. Surely I cannot be all bad, what I leave behind will be greater than the sum of my parts.
No, on days like this I rinse away the unpleasant tang and prefer to savour more pleasant dishes. Infused with hope and enriched with the zest of my child, who reminds me, who proves “our almost – instinct almost – true: What will survive of us is love.”
Copyright © John Bullock, 2013. All Rights Reserved