Thursday, 2 August 2012

Shake A Leg - Friday Flash

The peep show shutter scrolled back. Still blackout beyond. The coffin may have parted the curtain, but it had yet to enter the cremator. Jewish holy scrolls still encased behind cloth, even when the doors of the Ark are thrown open. The membrane of sleep remains drawn across consciousness, all the while as the brain slowly surfaces from its night porterage.

Sense data lack. Eyes closed off. The tripwire of the ear extends unplucked. Slight tang in the nostrils, the sourness of the body warming up and simmering the stale night juice marinade. The taste of mucus inside the mouth, a hardened nugget cloven to the roof. Tongue playing over it. A half- swallow reflex trying to dislodge it back down the gullet. But the globule isn't playing ball.

Slipping back into consciousness. An apologetic clearing of the sinuses. Involuntarily rattles the grey matter further up the line. The senses aware they're now scanning for data and that the processor is firing up. Still hard to credit. A flat denial of opening the eyes for confirmation. The extremities up the ante on the anterior organ of the brain. The bladder launches its blunt yet insistent prod. Pinned shoulder radiates a twinge along the pinched pathway before hitting the numb wall. A hand tingles with the recommencement of blood flow as the fingers flex and ball. It cranes sightlessly in order to lance some thigh itch. Pathfinder signal zeroing it in. Temporarily knocked off course by scrambled signals. A prickly patch of dry skin unreachable in the lumbar zone pressed against the mattress. Score one to the unscored scaly bed sore.

Crick begets crack. A throb behind the eyes. Dull smart. Banging on the lidded windows from inside, demanding ingress. The corners of his sockets tug by way of a twitch. Would-be blinking behind the blinkers. But the skin there is constrained by a viscid overlay. The kid who always woke up in a blind panic, unable to open his lids because of an allergic mucilaginous overproduction. Memory, or dream? No, it was that same summary circumstance day after summery day which always reaffirmed him to himself. That nothing sinister had overtaken him during the night, no matter what dreamscapes he roamed, which metamorphoses he undertook. He always returned the same 'me' in the morning. Rowed back over the other side by the ferryman, just with sticky coins placed over his eyes the toll. Though it takes longer to regain even that awareness these days.

His torso refuses to rise from the supine. Even though the bed was no longer granting him asylum. Abjures cradling him in its linen embrace, jabbing at him with indeterminate granules. Its wrinkles and ridges impress their exhortatory semaphore into his flesh. Nor is the quilt any longer sheathing him. A minimal leg movement tries to shuck the material. The emergence of a blind pupa from its chrysalis. But the fabric is too heavily cloying. It clusters around the foot, stifling it. The limb strives to wiggle itself free. Eventually a satisfying 'flump' as the quilt transfers its heap to the floor. Cold air inundates his skin. He can feel the crusted outlines of evaporated sweat on his stomach and navel, plastering down the hairs. While those on his arms stand up as if to attention. The dermal layers beneath pop and burst its own rind with goose bumps, once stripped of the duck down shroud.

Soon he would have no other choice. The ache behind his eyes tweaks the cord and ratchets up the pain siren. A spasm shoots straight to the middle of his forehead and attempts to burrow out the other side. His bladder scales the ladder, as it furrows his urethra frankly into further discomfort. The desire to conserve energy means  habitually he tries to wait for his sluggish bowels to catch up, to kill both flying the cooped-up at once, but has never synchronised them yet. If only he had a bedpan to soothe the urgency transmitted to his brainpan by the nether regions of his body.

Still a dearth of sense data from beyond the bed. Only heightened reports of the insurgency within. If he opens his eyes, he hopes to be bombarded with stimuli, if only to banish the goads from inside his own being. Hebetude in the guise of fortitude. He chances it. Unfurling his leaden lids like a portcullis. The light inroads and dazzles. Illuminates the blood vessels behind the overwhelmed lenses. His vision a gauzy, seething red. Reflexively he brings the lidded drawbridge crashing back up.

He retracts the shutters again. Slowly. Red tinged, quickly eclipsed by the natural light. Traffic light change, red to amber. A column of dust motes ascend spotlighted in the stripe of light pressed through the crack in the join of the drapes. A petit mal wave leaping the gap like the one he feels between the two disconnected hemispheres of his brain. The light shaft remains in place, but as his eyes adjust the motes are no longer visible. The early morning has filled in the outlines of the day ready for him to face it. To colour it in as he may. He swings his legs over the mattress and plants them on the carpet. The day has finally dawned.


Anonymous said...

I find myself struggling for the words to respond to yours, Marc. I'm not sure what to think, much less what to say. To take something so quotidian as waking up in the morning and bring such freshness to it...this is definitely a Marc Nash piece. To be honest, I found the descriptive style here to be a bit jarring at first, but then I realized what was going on, and I felt that it really helped: those first moments of semi-consciousness as one wakes up can be jarring at times. As always, Marc, you've given me a reading experience to ponder. Thanks for sharing!


Tim VanSant Writes said...

Ah, I take it you're not a morning person then? Nicely done.

Sulci Collective said...

Funnily enough Tim, although I'm not a morning person, rising from bed isn't really a problem. I'm a light sleeper, so slipping back into consciousness isn't so great of a reach as it may be from those who have to surface from deeper sleep.


Carrie Clevenger said...

I always need a dictionary to read your works but my brain loves the workout. Such simple actions described so...elegantly!

Steve Green said...

The way you put stories together is absolutely amazing, to take such a simple act as waking up and explaining it in such a riveting, in-depth, and gritty way is truly laudable. A brilliant piece of writing.

Katherine Hajer said...

Wow. Someone who hates getting up more than I do.

The video link at the end put a nice punctuation mark on the story.

Sulci Collective said...

Ah no Katherine, I don't hate getting up, I leap out of bed. It's sleep that persecutes me! I'm with the Boo Radleys on this one. Unless I've had a particularly bad sleepless night, but even then I can usually cope with that, I've had enough practice.

Thanks for reading.


liminalfiction said...

A truly unique creative slice, riveting and well written with, unlike so many surprise endings in flash, a fitting explanatory conclusion.

Icy Sedgwick said...

I'm freakishly good at waking up but the idea that all of this still goes in during those moments between sleep and wakefulness provides much food for thought.