I don’t need to close my eyes. I don’t even need the curtains to be shut. I can just lay on my back and stare at the ceiling. Any ceiling will do – it vanishes quickly enough anyway. I spent hours here as a teenager. Connected still to the world, but only by the tenuous thread of music or by luminous words on a page. But I knew that the abyss waited below me – just a fraction of a nudge beneath.
Even now, sitting at a computer in Sheffield Central Library, I can feel it waiting behind my eyes. I can feel the sticky weight of it – like a tropical storm waiting to break. I take a deep breath, and it moves with me, sliding around the inside of my eyes, accommodating itself to my shape – waiting, waiting still.
If I were to let it inside me now; for, strangely, it is outside of me as well as within, then it would envelop me quickly. Limbs that are not arms or legs would cling like frantic children. Breath that has no movement would flow into my being. An opiate of calm filled with alarm would embrace me. A deep well would open. A fall would begin.
There are thoughts down there, but not like any that I could claim as my own. They slip in and out of mind like strangers in a church. They have names that whisper to me of shame and oblivion. These thoughts don’t like to be named. They vanish like shadows when I try to catch their eye.
But these are idle things I speak of. They have no place in this world of light. So I unscrew my face and straighten out my corrugated forehead. I pull air into my lungs with ragged intensity and I search for the sun in the sky. I echo her smile with my own and I rise, I rise, I rise.