For me the Black Dog arrives carrying a noose to strangle my creativity. He whispers, you aren’t good enough. Sleep, all the time. Become for a while an empty vessel until you have got the strength to banish me. Walk me everywhere you go, holding my lead tight because you have forgotten who you are when I am not next to you.
He says, retreat into yourself. No wittering for it will not serve you. Do not do what you cannot do, do not even try, for you aren’t good enough. You have fallen behind because you always do. Let me lie down upon you so the mammoth task that is Christmas will feel twice as hard. Stroke me as you sit staring into space, achieving nothing. Feed me when you should be feeding yourself.
Today then. Waiting for the delivery of another new bed because the existing one must keep the neighbors up with its relentless squeaking (ahem). This time a divan with a memory foam topped sprung mattress instead of the oh so lovely iron bed I dressed in fairy lights and still adore. Sitting here waiting with a slice of soda bread buttered with hummus and sprouted seeds I may or may not eat. The sun shining though it is bitterly cold and water dripping on to the conservatory roof, drip, drip, drip until I feel I might go mad, and take up the brush and sweep to do my daily round.
I am a terrible wait-er. I was born without a patience gene and waiting strikes me as intolerable. My pregnancy was torturous. Merely waiting for a train to arrive on time something that makes me want to stab myself in the eyes. Christmas… oh Christmas. That I could wait for, for always.
Sweep, sweep, sweep. A button. More hair than is surely on my head, a sweet wrapper hiding under the armchair. Waylaid by the sudden urge to re-arrange all that is in the fridge and then scurrying back to the living room to sit again and stare, worrying that I will fail to hear a knock on the door and the delivery men will take the new bed back to where it came from and I will have to carry on planning every sleeping movement with military precision to prevent disturbing my slumbering man, or else wake up with hips atrophied through lack of movement.
There is so much I should be doing today. Drip. Drip. Drip. The. Men. Still. Aren’t. Here. I appease my tetchy head with poetry. My favorite love poems. Romance isn’t dead. It exists within the pages of this book! I am mildly astonished and light the Moroccan Rose Tea Candle Ste bought me last night, in celebration, and nibble at the corner of my hummus toast because I really should.
Despite my terrible appetite, my body is expanding at the rate of knots. Precipitated apparently by the tablet that so miraculously cures my restless legs. It is quite the most awful dilemma: to be fat or to tolerate the kind of crawling, painful ailment that is frankly unbearable. For while the doctor frowns upon the slow creep upwards of the scales dial, he cannot offer any alternative to the combination of medicine that is apparently my undoing.
Black dog. Black dog. Black dog.
The house feels claustrophobic but I cannot leave. I must wait for the men. Root in the depths of my soul for a string of words that will make sense to anyone but I. Go over and over the work already written I still cannot bring myself to share. Work out what it is that makes my skin crawl in shame. Get over myself. Stroke the black dog. Peel the potatoes. Chop the onions. Fry the mince. Let the bad book review spin around my head (a few full sentences would have been nice, she said, proffering one star and shattering my silly, fragile soul) until the Scouse is in the pan, salty and cosy ready for the meal we will all eat at separate times this evening as Ste drifts home and I head out to college. Two ships passing the child who will have already devoured his own bowl with all the greed of someone starving to death.
A sourdough loaf to bake. Deep sheets to be shopped for once the bed arrives because Kath assures me these memory foam topped mattresses are impossible to fully cover with a standard fitted sheet. The bath to clean. An iron toddler bed to be offered for sale. College work to be printed and filed. Men to wait for.
For yes, where the heck are the men? Why is the black dog my constant friend? Will a cup of tea help?
Sweep. Sweep. Sweep. Drip. Drip. Drip. Stroke, stroke, stroke…