It’s past bedtime and I’m being kept awake by tearing pain in my abdomen – because endometriosis is truly hideous, and I’m being punished for a fun weekend with agony and weeping.
As always happens when I’m awake at a time I shouldn’t be, I want to write – and as always happens when I want to write, instead of just writing I come up with twenty thousand reasons not to, and why I’m terrible at it anyway, and talk myself out of it.
But I’m trying to stop being rubbish – so I’m writing.
Last night we went to see Muse at the London Olympic Stadium – and it was absolutely epic. Muse do know how to put on a good show! We then spent the night in a tiny hotel in an obscure part of London because the trains were stupid, and it was easier than trying to get home late at night when a crowd of 120,000 people (for once I’m not exaggerating; that’s how many people were there) are all trying to do the same at the same time.
In said tiny hotel, in a bed much smaller than we are used to, we settled down for sleep and – as always happens when I’ve had something to get anxious about (which is literally anything. Ever. In or out of the house. All things give me anxiety, but I tend to go ahead with them anyway these days since I’ll be anxious either way, and might as well get something out of it…) I had WEIRD dreams.
Nights with the very weird dreams always leave me in a kind of surreal hangover the following day, catching glimpses of creatures out of the corner of my eye and convinced I’ve lived the day before, and this is a weird repetition, a glitch in my own matrix.
This time it was rats. We ran a farm, but it was in a tree house, because we needed to protect the chickens from the rats – huge ones, bold and cocky, and we feared and respected those rats in equal measure. We knew that their leader had to be respected, even grudgingly admired, but we feared his leadership and – though he led over a subculture of underground creatures who skulked in the shadows, we still knew we had to climb higher and live outside of the world we made to protect the things we loved from them.
Every time I turned I saw a rat, or a shadow of a rat, from the corner of my eye and every rat or shadow of a rat I saw was bigger than the last. Scuttling, hunched man sized, sharper and more proud than they had any right to be, but never quite boldly walking in the light of day, until they were – and people had so slowly been accustomed to the infiltration of the man sized rats in the corners of their eyes that to see them step so boldly out into the light didn’t seem bold, or shocking, or even unexpected.
Rather than shocked, we were simply sad, but also knew we couldn’t say that we were sad, in case the leaders of the rats – and the leader of their leaders – heard our words. So we climbed higher, taking our chickens and our families with us, hoping to stay out of everything happening below.
It didn’t work – and we caught sight of rats stealing the eggs from our chickens the instant they were laid. The chickens were afraid, but too afraid to tell us. We were nervous, but knew we had to stop them.
We knew we only had one chance, and poison had to be the way – and we had to make it work. We knew the rat was too smart to eat it by mistake, and whilst everyone was trying to think of a plan I knew I just had to step out and face him, eye to eye, and spoon feed it to him. I knew he wouldn’t believe that I would poison him – that of all the people in the world, I could be the one who would stand for what was right and protect the ones who mattered when his kind had taken power and pushed us into the trees.
Knowing he wouldn’t believe it of me is why it worked, I suppose. I even told him as I poured it out that he was going to die, and this poison would finish him – and he laughed at me and drank it down. I held his mouth and poured in more when he realised that it was real, and his shock made him stand still just a little bit too long – and by the time he tried to run from me I’d already fed him too much of the poison, and he couldn’t get far.
As I watched him die the whole place we were in, high in the trees, moved downwards until we were flat on the ground and he was stumbling into a grubby meadow, smaller than he’d been when I stepped out to face him, and his death was fast and cruel and powerful, and all the scuttling, bold, man sized rats shrank and retreated back into the shadows where they belonged, and we were down from the trees, and when I walked across to see his dead body, he was nothing but a rat – an ordinary, rat sized rat, and none of the others ever troubled us again, and the chickens and the children were grateful – but sad that I had had to kill him for us to feel safe.
All day, since waking, I have felt like the shadows are moving, waiting for the time the things inside them can step out. All day, my pain has been getting sharper and more intense. All day I have felt just slightly off, like I’m half a step over to the right of where I’m meant to be, a little out of touch.