I’m woken by the sound of urgent fluttering against glass.
Whenever one is woken unexpectedly in the middle of the night the script of being in bed is turned upside.
For the tiniest of moments I think I’m in my childhood room.
This feeling lasts only a second or two, then I’m back, my senses focusing hard on the immediate problem.
What is that sound?
In the space between the bottom of the curtain and the window frame I can see an urgent black shape.
I suddenly realise there’s a small bird in my room.
How did it get in here?
How the hell will I get it out?
It stops fluttering for a moment.
In the darkness I think I can make out a wing.
I lean forward over the edge of the bed to get a better view and by doing so I accidentally knock over the bottle of water on my bedside table.
“Fuck!” I quickly turn on the bedside lamp.
The water has spilt over the power board on the floor beside my bed.
I start mopping at it with a t-shirt.
With the light on I look back towards the space where the bird was. It’s gone.
Then in my peripheral vision I sense a big black shape. My eyes are slowly drawn up, towards the ceiling.
Up there clinging to the wall, its wings trembling slightly, is a huge black moth.
It wasn’t a bird at all.
I stare at the moth. There is something profound about its presence here.
After watching it for a while I turn out the light and try and get back to sleep.
My thoughts keep returning to the moth. As my eyes get used to the dark I can make out its silhouette.
I think about the moth possibly landing on my face while I sleep.
Why is the moth here?
Who sent it?
Who is the moth working for?
My eyes get heavier and my thoughts start unravelling and working back to the moment when I first woke up at the sound of the beating wings, when I thought I was back in my childhood room.
It was the first room I had to myself. I can’t remember how old I was. Eleven, twelve years old?
I had problems with my ear then. A perforated eardrum which would flare up periodically. This night I woke up in extreme pain. My ear was killing me. It got worse and worse. I started crying. In the first room I had completely to myself there was nobody there to hear me. I thought my parents would wake up and come to my aid. But they didn’t hear. For some reason I didn’t want to get up and go to them. I wanted somebody to come and help me.
And at that moment I realised that the price you pay for being alone… is being alone.
Electric crackles interrupt this memory.
I’m back in my present room.
Snap, crackle. What’s that sound?
I realise it’s coming from the power board.
I turn on the light. There are some drops of water on it I missed. Water must have seeped in.
Tiny electric crackles.
What should I do?
I go to wipe it again with the t-shirt then I have a sudden fear of electrocution.
What if I died right there and now? Electrocuted while trying to mop up water of my power board, with the sole witness to such a ridiculous death being a big black moth clinging to my ceiling?
I turn out my bedside lamp (I’m brave enough to touch that electrical appliance) and I slump back in bed.
Soon I can make out the silhouette of the moth again.
I close my eyes and its shape remains upon my eyelids.
The electric ticking of the water in the power board sparks little white fires upon its dusky wings as I descend slowly back into sleep.