Peter, I presume it must be, blots out the sun. He stands in the doorway, ducking under the lintel. Dressed in pale robes and with a full beard he says ‘Knock knock. Anybody home?’ in a voice that is at once soft and very crisp. I’m sitting up at least but haven’t been able to do anything much else today.
‘Mind if I come in?’ he says. It takes me a moment to work out why he sounds so weird. I suddenly realise I’ve been speaking Spanish up until now and this is the first conversation I’ve had in English since I arrived.
‘Be my guest’ I say, indicating the general space, any amount of which he might want to occupy. None of it feels like mine yet anyway, although I am assured by Sonia that this is now my house, if I want it.
‘You look much better’ he says, dropping down onto the other sofa, making the springs complain. ‘Any chance of refreshments?’ he says, turning to the kitchen and half rising.
‘Oh I’m sorry’ I say, beginning painfully to rise. It’s incredibly hard to stand and he doesn’t offer to help but I find some ancient stores of politeness propel me up and on. It’s not until I almost collapse and brain myself making a dash for it across to the sink that he realises anything’s wrong and then he launches himself in my direction, grabs me by the arm and swings me back to sit on the arm of the sofa.
‘Are you alright?’ he says, looking closely into my eyes.
‘Still a bit weak’ I say, understating it for the sake of sarcasm. He doesn’t get it.
‘Shall I give you a hand?’ he says earnestly.
I nod deeply, expecting him to let me lie down again and rummage around for the “refreshments” himself, but instead he props me up and steadies me as I walk across to the sink. Then he goes and sits back down and picks up a book.
After we’ve sat around for a while, making polite conversation and drinking coffee (my coffee I suppose it must be) he begins to heave himself up and says ‘Well... Can’t hang around all day...’ and I realise I’ve been waiting for him to tell me about how he found me. I certainly had the feeling he had something to tell me. Perhaps not. I’m going to have to be more assertive.
‘Yes’ he says, sitting on the edge of the sofa.
‘I’m sorry. I thought...’
He looks at me expectantly. How can he not guess what I want to ask? And why can’t I ask? ‘It’s ok’ I say ‘Thanks for looking in. See you again soon?’
‘Probably not actually. Just passing through you see. Anyway, thanks for the coffee’ and with that he’s gone.
Well he was quite irritating anyway, I tell myself afterwards, and go back to the sofa. I wonder when Sonia is coming back.
Night falls suddenly and the sound of the running water and the myriad life forms outside permeates everything. I can’t sleep. I’ve done enough sleeping but I don’t even have the strength to hold up a book and focus on the page. Mainly, I realise, I’m bored. I look toward the window, at the moonlight highlighting everything in silver and I try to think what’s different here. Wind chimes tinkle remotely. There’s a breeze picking up. Could be a relief. It’s been very muggy these last few days. I lie back and look at the ceiling. The light is making ripple patterns there. There must be a puddle outside. Or maybe it’s the bucket under the down pipe. That’ll be it.
Sonia. Her eyebrows meet in the middle but she has a very nice bottom. I think she likes me. I move my hands over my chest and belly down to my groin. Still no response. There’s still a terrible gash just over my right thigh where it joins my hip. Everything still jars and grinds when I move but it’s uncomfortable rather than painful. The pain has been much worse...
I wake up from a terrible dream – of falling, but it’s no product of my imagination. The fall is sickening in its suddenness, rushing through air face down, seeing in deadly detail the crags and shattered trees rushing up to meet me, I hit... And wake up, and I know I was pushed.