My limbs refused to move despite my orders, but my eyes still worked. They darted around the room taking stock and making sure everything was still where I had left it. The light slowly permeating the curtains was subtle, and it was only now that I noticed the faint hazy glow of the rising sun spreading across the room. I rolled over, eyeing the curtain for a moment before reaching out to grab a handful and throwing it back. There was no use trying to sleep now.
The sky was cloudy, but in the fresh light the clouds looked more white than grey, and pale blue shone through the breaks, desperately trying to worm their way through and dispel the gloom of night. Birds chirped together, their individual voices adding to the already obnoxious sounding cacophony. I wondered why people describe bird song like this so nicely, when the tone is harsh and accusing. “You should have slept!” They screech, taunting. “It’s too late now! You’re screwed!” I groaned and lay back, watching the battle unfold though I knew light would win.
I don’t know how long I lay there, the ticking of the clock hammering away at the few nerves not already wrecked by sickeningly cheery birds screaming out their pride in waking so early. Fuck them, I thought, throwing back the duvet finally and shrugging on yesterdays clothes. They’ll be sorry when I let Jinx out this morning.
Jinx was my cat, and he was as close a thing to a wild cat as you get in a quiet rural village. He delighted in orphaning things: birds, mice, frogs, even the occasional guinea pig much to the dismay of my neighbour. I apologised profusely for his actions of course, but deep down I was glad that those squealing furry pigs wouldn’t wake me from another afternoon nap.
I padded downstairs, put the coffee on and ate breakfast while I waited for it to brew. Jinx lapped up the remaining milk in my bowl as I leaned back and tried my hardest to ignore the morning news for 5 minutes until I could drink some caffeine and get my brain ready to tackle the doom and gloom of the day. I looked at the clock in the corner of the TV screen, next to the scrolling headlines: 5:06AM. Too fucking early, in layman’s terms.
Eventually the gurgle and drip of the coffee machine stopped and I made my way back in to the kitchen with my bowl (perfectly clean, courtesy of Jinx) and poured a large mug of black, sludgy coffee. I didn’t know why the coffee was always like this, but I had a sneaking suspicion I had missed out on an essential lesson in coffee brewing, and that there was nothing to be done except maybe go and pay $5 for a cup at the Starbucks down the street; that wouldn’t be happening any time soon.
I am a strong believer in routine, and even though I hate this routine of not sleeping enough and then sleeping for days, it is a routine nonetheless. I sank in to the cushions of my scruffy couch, Jinx purring on my lap and coffee in hand and I wondered what other people do when they’re awake at 5AM. I wondered if they tried to process what was going on in the world and let their murderous cat drink their leftover cereal milk and I wondered if it mattered if they did or not.
I figure that other people will be awake, and they’ll be doing their best to get by for another day like the rest of us. Because nobody knows what they’re doing really, it’s just that some people know how to pretend better than others.
I like to pretend I have a cat who loves me and nothing else, so I don’t feel so absolutely alone in the world. Also so I can threaten the asshole birds screeching their dawn fucking chorus.
As I said, some are better at pretending than others.