The cheap quartz wall clock ticked its way through the dark minutes and hours in the studio. It wasn’t loud yet he was convinced he could still hear it, even with the door closed. He turned his face from one hot side of the pillow to the other. Still sleep evaded him.
The mind plays its darkest games in those still hours, when fears are more real. The swoosh of the scythe, like a knife through silk, is only a stroke away, and death stalks those wakeful thoughts. Car crashes become unavoidable. Work-related accidents a matter of time and media-induced paranoia of acts of terrorism places packages in every hidden shadow.
He flicked on the small book-light under the duvet and read a chapter of his latest acquisition, a paperback fiction bought at the station when the tannoy announced the cancellation of the train, and the drizzle continued unabated.
Satisfied, he flicked off the light and closed his eyes. He twisted. He turned. His brain churned. Damn it. His ears strained for the faint sounds of the wall clock but this time he could hear nothing. Content, he tried the new breathing exercises he’d been shown and tried to relax. No good. His mind shifted up to fourth. He was awake. A sigh passed his parted lips and, rising slowly to avoid making noise, he got out of bed.
He sat at the desk in his studio. He opened his notebook, took a pen from its holder and listened to the clock tick its way through the dark minutes and hours.