I felt like my head was being split into two unequal fragments. One throbbing hard, and the other shattering into yet more infinitesimal shreds. I wondered vaguely why this was happening to me. I hadn't drunk anything remotely more intoxicating than a couple of diet cokes, and they definitely hadn't had this kind of effect on me before. Just thinking about this sliver of information doubled the throbbing. I felt a disconnect from the rest of my limbs and could not fathom where exactly I was.
I hesitantly flickered my eyes open, and shut them with lightning speed because a sudden intense flashing seemed to irritate the monstrous pain-in-my-head. I was very confused. I rolled over and felt my pillows and bed linen squish under my weight. Sinking my head into my quilt, I opened my eyes cautiously and looked around.
It was definitely my room. And I was in my own bed. I was in my night clothes and nothing seemed to be amiss. Yet something was troubling me, or more importantly, something was troubling my head. I glanced around to the source of the flash that had aggravated my pain and saw that I had left the blinds open last night. The sun was blazing through the glass and onto my bed. I slid over to the window and pulled the blinds down. I leaned over to the bedside table to alleviate a lingering dryness in my throat and felt the cool water trickle down into my deepest abyss and sighed with relief.
I gingerly got out of bed and hobbled into the bathroom. I didn't quite know how I accomplished that feat but I sure did feel a sense of victory. That was until I hung my head over the toilet seat and retched my guts out.
A couple of hurls later I was feeling much better than I was when I had gotten up. I headed to the sink and did not even have the strength to look into the mirror. I plucked the toothbrush and paste from the cabinet behind the mirror and started to rinse out the bad taste from my mouth. My tired brain was again rationalizing this sudden turn of events. The prospects flashing in my head ranged from food poisoning to brain tumor.
I splashed cold water on my face and took two aspirins to ease the battle waging inside my head. Then finally, I looked into the mirror. And nearly shrieked.
My eyes were bloodshot, my cheeks had lost all semblance of color and my hair was a mess. I looked like I had been dragged through hell and had barely made it back. I touched my hair and got my fingers tangled up in the snarls at the nape of my neck. I yanked my hand out and headed to the bedroom.
I crumpled on the bed and urged my brain to cooperate with me in my misery. Recalling the events of last night, I remembered how I had flung myself into bed after my shower, having been too tired to have done anything else. That explained the unruly mass of angry strands on my head. The headache was another matter. In an instant a visual of the torrential rains whipped into memory and I realized that I may have to pop in something more effective than a pain reliever.
I touched my forehead and found it to be warmer than usual. At least I knew what was wrong with me. Just some common cold and fever. Nothing a good, long lay in the sack wouldn't cure. Strangely relieved with my self-diagnosis, I headed into my kitchenette to brew some coffee.
I poked into the cupboards and came up with a sachet of instant coffee and my favorite purple mug. Putting the water on to boil, I remembered a distant promise of another coffee made last night. A smile turned up the corners of my mouth as I recalled the evening and the man that made it memorable. As I poured the water and stirred in the coffee, a sense of calm pervaded my senses. The pain seemed to shift to the background of my mind, as if having lost out to the suddenly refreshed memory.
I sipped from the mug and looked around my apartment. The tiny place I called home. And it really was. The first place i was independently living in, without the support of my parents, or the company of friends or room-mates. It was a space I could call my own. The kitchenette was in perfect condition and there were no dirty dishes in the sink to take care of. No one had eaten in the house for a couple of days now. The past week at work had been hideously tiring, which had forced me to cop meals from the cafeteria or the deli at the corner of the street. The quaint little dining room-cum-living room-cum-drawing room was just through the kitchen doors. Everything looked to be in place there as well. The flowers were wilting a little, but apart from that the place looked well kept.
As I stepped into the bedroom, it seemed like a tornado had ripped through it. The bed was a mess, as was likely since I hadn't made it yet, but the rest of the room was strewn with clothes, a pair of worn-out sneakers, a couple of scarves, a wet towel and a pair of soggy leather shoes. It seemed like I was the tornado that had ripped apart my room last night.
However, I didn't seem to have the energy to sort everything out yet, so I sat on my bed and gazed out at the slivers of sunlight that had managed to slip through the blinds. Sipping my coffee, I glanced over at the clock on the wall facing me and noticed that it really wasn't morning that I had woken up to. It was quarter past one. The only thought that came into my head was that it was a Saturday and I could indulge myself as much as I liked.
Chugging the last dregs from my mug, I snuggled into my quilt to ease my discomfort. Another reason for this unreasonable urge was to be able to freely think about Neil without having to suffer pangs of guilt from my subconscious. If it was a dream, I had no control over it. That was my defense.
Just as I was slipping into a slumber, the buzzer at my door jarred my senses awake. Feeling disgruntled, I tossed aside the quilt and trudged over to the door, ready to shoo off anybody who had the audacity to disturb me on a non-weekday. I pressed the button and croaked out, "Yes..?"
A slight sound, which seemed like somebody was clearing their throat, came from the other end of the machine and then a deep, velvety voice replaced it. "Hey Rosalyn, it's me. Neil."