swimming upstream

Greg wants to sleep his life away. He doesn’t want these tasks to get in the way of his sleep patterns, his dreams and nightmares. The world of imagination while sleeping….”

 

by christine tothill

 

In the darkest moment; the time of day when people get together, make meals, talk about the day – Greg sleeps. He goes to bed as soon as he arrives home, gets in, takes his clothes off. It isn’t home anymore… it is a place he goes to when he finishes work, completes his day, fulfills his given tasks.

One of his tasks is to – once a month – have his children, take them out, amuse them until the clock strikes four in the afternoon on a Sunday. He takes them to the zoo, the fair, the seaside or a walk in the country.

He calls it a task because he doesn’t want to do it. He would rather the children get on with their lives without him. He has worked out they would be better that way, they wouldn’t have to give stuff up at weekends.

Brett loves his sports club and moans about missing it.

Maisie misses parties.

Greg wants to sleep his life away. He doesn’t want these tasks to get in the way of his sleep patterns, his dreams and nightmares. The world of imagination while sleeping. He grabs at memories of them and tries to hang on to them but they fade away every time and even if he tries to write them down – they fade like his biro does, to a blank. To his blank life.

He sleeps when he is free, away from people, away from work, away from everybody.

His mother calls him most evenings about seven and he doesn’t answer. It is the time the family (if they were there) would be squabbling over what to eat, where to eat it, who doesn’t like what and then silence as they settle down into the meal – the wine, into the normality of living.

He sleeps because it is easy, because it doesn’t take any planning; it is the best thing to do when there is nothing out there. No person out there. Nothing.

He sleeps because he is hungry and can’t go out to buy stuff, food, take-aways. He would rather eat at work with colleagues full of help, laughing with him at this free life, free time, and time to do whatever he wants and how they are envious. How they would love to be like him, free from orders, plans, children, mothers. How envious they are because he is swimming upstream.

Originally published:
Issue Sixty-Six
April 2013

 

(illustration: dee sunshine)


Christine Tothill lives in Hampshire, England and writes short fiction. Her stories have been published in QWF, Scribble, Bright Light Cafe, Clover Books, Diddledog, Quiction and more. She is working on her novel and also plays the organ, if there is time left over. Many more of Christine’s stories can be found in the Vault of Smoke.

 

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