I am jolted awake. This has been happening a lot of late.
I lie there in bed. My eyes are squeezed shut. I am contemplating; I am anticipating.
My body has tensed. Every limb, each muscle has become leaden. I daren’t move for fear of missing the next shake.
A film of perspiration has formed on my skin. The sheets are clinging to my body; it feels disgusting yet I refuse to move. I think I can feel a continuous rumble coursing through my body. I’m not sure.
Is it my imagination or is the bed quivering slightly?
Still with eyes closed I listen. I listen for the telltale audio of wall-hangings vibrating against plasterboard.
There is no sound.
Tentatively I shift my head on the pillow. The sound in my ear is deafening; smooth linen against two days’ of stubble.
My bedroom is deathly quiet, although I swear the bed is trembling beneath me.
I remember the first shake. I think about the jolt that so abruptly tore me from my sleep. I go back, recollecting step by step. From the recovery-position on my left side, still tensed, motionless as I have been for what is ostensibly the last two hours but is probably more like twenty or thirty seconds, I think back.
I recall seeing the explosion of white light in my subconscious as the fragile bliss of slumber was shattered. I recall my top leg being jerked upwards and outwards by the sudden tremor. I then recall the barely discernible rustle as my bedclothes resettled over me. I clearly remember the shock of the event; similar to the 9000 volts of a cattle fence, I recall the momentary terror of my heart being gripped, clamped then squeezed as if inside a vice. I recall the heat too, like ducking into a hot car on an icy morning I recall the rapid shift in body temperature, the way the uncomfortable heat seemed to engulf me, the way my flesh seared from the panic that is total confusion.
I think then about the movement; I recall the way the bed seemed to be vibrating under my left shoulder, but how it never came to anything more than that. Had there been other tremors, I wondered, other movement that I hadn’t felt? I recall lying there in wait, vigilant, almost in expectation of another, even more sizeable jolt. I recall the foreboding, the fear, the dread that had gripped me; the initial jolt had been so large, so how big would the subsequent tremors be? I recall, moments later, thinking it odd that there had still been only the one, but then, perhaps there had been others. Maybe there had been earlier rumbles but I had simply slept through them..? No, surely not. For a sleeper as light as me that was an unnerving thought.
I remember then how as I became less tense the movement appeared to stop. Or was it the other way around? I remember further my mother’s recently imparted wisdom on restless leg syndrome and how it is due largely to a magnesium deficiency. I remember her additional homily on mineral supplements and how, given my high level of physical exertion, I should be particularly careful to never run out.
Unmoving once more and now from the central comfort afforded by a king-sized bed, I think about my empty magnesium bottle; through a sleep-addled mind I curse my absentmindedness in forgetting to buy more last time I was in town.
Last thing I remember contemplating is the decision to wash my sheets in the morning.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Minnie Rahl
Photography by D Fisher-Ancy