The darkest part of the night
I lie there for a few minutes, breathing carefully, adjusting, then slip out of bed to the bathroom. I can do this in the dark, open cupboards and wrappers, find drugs, take drugs. I slip back into bed, to wait for the codeine wave to break over me.
When this happens in the darkest part of the night it is scary. I am vulnerable and disoriented. I try to focus on the breathing, I lie on my balled fists. I try and keep still. But my mind always races. Into it this month comes Burma and Darfur, and the newly discovered photos of guards at Auschwitz. I am reading The Kite Runner (which I highly recommend, but which will not cheer you up much).
The veneer of civilisation is very thin, and these are the times I feel it might splinter at any moment. They come for you in the darkest part of the night, when you are alone and when you are already bleeding.
But I am not alone. After a few minutes M stirs. 'Would you like me to warm up your pink sack?' he says sleepily. My pink sack is a little corduroy bean bag that you can heat in the microwave. It used to smell of something comforting, like lavender, but that faded years ago. It was a gift, and I can't remember who from, but I am sure it was a man. It is the best thing in the world for this pain, but the microwave is two flights of stairs away and I can barely move.
Would you? I say, and he does. It is so hot that I need to wrap it in layers, which I unwrap gradually until it is next to my skin. The heat is bliss, it hurts, but in a sharp way, near the surface, tangible, movable. He goes back to sleep. I lie there until the light appears in the corners of the skylight, the birds are awake, and the codeine has dulled all my senses. Then I curl up round him, with the pink sack between us, and I sleep too.
I know when I wake up the world will feel more benign. And it does.