You crawl into the sleeping bag earlier each day, lying for hours on the sun bed, watching the white rain storm through the noughts and crosses of the window frame. Along each vertical line of wood, some peculiarity of light, and the oblique angle of your head as it stares, has caught and delineated two colours, to the left an intense, inky, translucent blue, to the right a neon, golden yellow, like that of toffee wrappers. A memory of a similar moment of colour distortion comes back to you, of a vase on a window sill, a black silhouette surrounded by these never-seen-before colours. How has this partial prism come about – some defect of your eyes’ rods and cones, combining with the dull, dislocating whiteness of the sky? For a moment you are scared that all colour will break up into its constituent parts, and you will lose the shape of things in a riot of pointillist dots. Standing to see the agitation of the trees caused by the acceleration and emergency brake of the wind, the colours fly away; when you lie down again they return only faintly, evidently not subject to your will.
Black dreams come to you, of rough, disoriented sex, friends known to you and conveniently forgotten when you are conscious again. There is rapid movement all about you, coupled with a sense of your body being lost. Then the dream holds itself steady, bubbling slowly, your body prickling with awareness. Before the finale, you once again lose the participation of your body, which you now see through detached and hovering eyes. As you come, you see your disfigured face with its eyeless sockets, and the shock returns your body to dream-normal. Now you are tantalisingly close to saving wakefulness, but you seem to have lost the ability to see straight ahead. Your head lolls. Your eyes register objects only at the same oblique angle which watched the translucent lines of colour. The need to see normally, to prevent some imminent danger, is horribly pressing. But your body is paralysed until suddenly allowed to see a face in the mirror: not the expected face.
You wake as if to another day, jolted out of your inertia, and sit up for vague beginnings of memory – of your dream, of where you are, of the lover you have left behind. You pull out your small portfolio from your backpack, and flick through, stopping at a picture of Louise. Her head rests back on her hand, and her forearm catches light from the flash. She is giving the camera a stare that is no less than penetrating. There is no trace of a tear, or redness around the eyes, no disturbed make-up to say definitely what you know to be the case, that she had not long before been crying. How you came to take a picture so soon after she had been upset, you cannot remember or understand. But evidently she made no effort to resist it being taken, knowing that one day you would recognise the look of sad, almost indifferent reproach which now churns your stomach with pain and longing.