Belle Reve

Boo, Kate Turner

From thin cracks under the door she crawls, she keeps me awake at night. I’m shaken by something arbitrary – the breeze’s breath on thin window panes or a low voice muffled turned a wail from way, way down the corridor. And now I’m stuck awake, entrenched in early Sunday dawn, braced by late Saturday night.

The room is only partially lit, just enough so that odd shapes can be seen and faintly made out through inference, but little enough that no real details are ever known. I think I hear a television playing, electric beeps and whistling tunes bordering formal, news reporter tones. I haven’t a television of my own; it must be the neighbour’s. And the air conditioning runs, the fans whir and something’s abuzz, waiting for me on standby.

As I try my best to fall back through the sheets, and catch myself in the life at Belle Reve, I’m kept awake by the light; from the cracks under my door she crawls. Draped in the sheets, I try to catch the current of comatose, to be tossed back into the waves of an uncertain, unknown confidant to whom death itself loans much resemblance. I picture sheep and focus my breathing to the sharpness of a pin, adjust the air and burrow myself deeper into the furrows of linen sheets, then, so suddenly, change my mind and kick the quilts off again.

I think about opening the window or getting up to take a quick piss but I know it isn’t wise. I rule such thoughts quickly out, realizing what they might imply. So I go back to fidgeting between the sheets, trying to find the right spot, or a comfy groove in the limp mattress topper. But still, despite the palpable night, I’m kept away by that thin thread of light.

Ten months it’s been since I’ve moved in, and yet the frigidness of dusty uninhabitance still hangs from every corner; like sore memento cobwebs.

I hear two shrill voices thrown down the hall and find my ear plugs have fallen out, one strewn across my meager pillow, the other wedged into the muscles of an aching back. Just as I refit them in my ears with a gentle shove to seal them tight, the two outside are caught chuckling in each other’s ears. Bent close to one another, their legs leave thin shadows along my bedroom floor. I’ve tossed and turned all night, thrown myself from left to right and side to side, front to back, but my bed’s still cold. I pull the sheets back over myself and grip them tightly at my chest, legs firing like relay runners under the eyelids of my bed. Just trying to keep warm I work up a little sweat, my back’s sticking to the bed sheet forces the quilt off once again.

In the sparse light I see my body strung out in front of me; covered only by thin cotton briefs and patches of curly brown hair like a forest groomed selectively. Sweat’s beaded in the nooks and cracks and corners of my body’s every room. My limbs are thick tree trunks in the winter time, whose bark grows brittle, whose acorns and leaves all dead and carried away by an unforgiving Autumn wind.

Though she grants some solemn sight, there’s really not enough to make out any muscle tone, any definition or real shape. I try to admire the base for a minute, but give up in the absence of true scrutiny. Looking around the room I see that she, too, has not yet graced us with the real ability to admire – in dreary awe – the contents of my room. I look to my desk, forgetting the need to sleep a moment, and see no camaraderie but shrouded shapes, poltergeists and faceless silhouettes. I reach for my pen and pad, but the blackness scribbled down every page makes me hesitate, fearful that I might be littering some page of poems; I write a line, try to remember what it was I had dreamed as the thought slips away, the ink hardly visible on the unlit page.

So I try once more to fall back asleep. Pierce the lids shut, hold the tongue and breath effortlessly. Still though, in the corner of my eye, stinging through the blinds, that long orange line floats in an otherwise deep and endless blackened sea.