Please note: this page is unlikely to make you laugh. I was bored of writing funny stuff
David lay in bed. A soft plume of smoke rose up from the ashtray where a cigratte burned. He was thinking about sleep. In the spotlight of the bedside lamp he watched a spider crawl. He picked up the empty glass and cupped it gingerly over the spider. He slid the postcard under the glass and opened the window. He didn't like spiders. He shook the glass out of the window and checked that the spider had gone.
The cigarette was dead. He switched off the light and sat there, knowing that sleep would come as it always did. Sleep rarely disappointed. Only waking ever let him down.
In North London, in England, moored off the west coast of Europe, in a flat that had seen better days, the television droned on. He flicked between channels, between little gaps in his vision. He put the kettle on again and waited for it to re-boil. As the water bubbled, he moved back into the lounge and changed the channel on the TV. Outside, it was still London, it was still England and the future lurked. The future looked impassive, unjudgemental, willing to play the game any way he wanted. He didn't know what he wanted. He wanted another cup of tea.
He moved back into the kitchen. Milk, two sugars, spooning the teabag across the room into the dustbin, dripping tea on the floor. A man can drink many cups of tea before the future arrives.
On the High Street, the sun was shining and winter enveloped the air with a rosy cheer. Even the betting shop looked happy in the dayglo sunlight. David bought the Guardian, a milkshake and another packet of cigarettes. He only bought 10 cigarettes, although he would smoke twenty in a day - the legacy of quitting a few years ago and telling himself he was no longer a smoker.
He wanted to change his life. He wanted to win the lottery and talk to God.
He walked back to the flat. Day-release was over.
The phone rang in the hallway. He counted the rings and counted the steps until he answered the phone.
"Hiya. How's your day?" she asked him.
"Oh, not bad. Same as usual. I knew it'd be you on the phone. Anyway, how's your day? Did you have fun last night?"
"Boooooring. Boring. Boring. Office boring. Well, you know what office drinks are like... you know...mustn't grumble. It's just a bit dull. Are we still on for tonight?"
David looked at his watch: "Yeah, yeah, of course. What do you want? Bounds Green's finest? Chinese or a curry?"
"Ooooh, Chinese please. I don't know why you even ask me."
"And a bottle of red?"
"Yup. Sounds great. I'll be over about seven. I can't really talk now. The boss is staring at me. I should probably do some work," she puckered a kiss down the phoneline.
"See you later. Will be fun."
The phone clicked goodbye in his ear and the dial tone returned. Goodbye. Hello. Goodbye. So many lines to remember. Like a shop full of greeting cards....We are so sorry to hear about your loss. Happy Anniversary!
He pulled the Chinese menu from the cork board on the wall. A ball of quiet anxiety sat in his stomach, in his spine. Chicken chow mein. Egg fried rice. Prawn crackers in a greasy paper bag.
He lit another cigarette and sat in front of the television, trying to plot out the evening, trying to steer a course through the week via the path of least resistance. Tonight Carol would come over. Tomorrow he would go to an art gallery. On Thursday he would walk through the park and force himself to think about the pretty colours of the fallen leaves.
He turned the TV off and tramped through to his bedroom. He drew the curtains and switched on the radio, slowly, gently, quietly. He closed his eyes and pulled the duvet over his head. An afternoon nap was a luxury like no other. He kicked his socks onto the floor. He slid off his trousers and pants and curled up, ready for hibernation.
The dreams were tender and listless, an unfocused narrative about a filmstar and a car chase and very important news that he had to deliver. He could feel the stiffness of his body, of his cramped head in a cramped bed.
Dreams are funny, unremarkable things. We forget them most of the time.
He woke up and took a deep breath. It was a lovely morning, free from anxiety, free for good.
He knew that his name was no longer David. He knew this knowledge should have worried him, but it didn't. He was sick of being David.
His name was now Clive. He was no longer 29. He was 38. His flat, asymetrical body had changed too. He examined his hairy arms and his chipped fingernails; he lovingly admired the gut that hung over his groin like a pouch. He would need to go to the gym after work. Of all the gym joints in the world, he had to walk into this one...
He smoothed his hands over his bald head. It felt like a baby's.
He turned on the light and Viv stirred from her sleep. She rubbed he eyes and smiled.
"You alright, love?" she asked. Her eyes were beautiful. Sometimes she drove him mad, but he loved her. He probably always would.
"Just getting a glass of water. Do you want anything?"
"I'm fine. Oh... but could you check on Mona?"
"Course. Back in a mo'."
Each footstep on the carpet felt good. He let each toe sink into the fibres. He scratched his bum as he walked downstairs to the kitchen and poured himself a glass of water. He set it down on the table and smiled.
Clive tiptoed into Mona's bedroom and looked down at his daughter, her eyes closed, idiotic with sleep. He smiled, his body welling with love, his stomach panging with future worries. He wouldn't let anything hurt her. He loved her so much. He loved standing there, watching her sleep.
He took the water and climbed slowly up the stairs. A spider was crawling across the wall. He picked up the gazette and swatted it dead. He turned off the light in the hall and went back to bed.