The violence of the day was upon me. Here I was, a fourteen year old boy from England, in a foreign city with a pregnant woman in her forties. And I have killed a man. In the dark of the night it all seemed so plain, that I had had no choice. In the cold of the morning I could only view horror and a sense that I was going to be in prison for a very long time. I missed my life, and I had nowhere to go.
What on earth was I thinking? Surely he was joking, and I was in no danger at all. There had been no one there to witness his demented ramblings; there had been no one there to reel in horror as he supped at my living blood. No one knew me, and no one cared. I thought that everyone would just take my word for it. As the sight came back to my lurid eyes I knew that that was far from certain.
The woman in the next room woke early and tried to make sense of things. First she went for a piss, and made herself a cup of tea, but along the way senses tried to impinge on her activities. She had no idea where I was, or why I was sleeping in the gloomy morning shadow of the cloister. But it was the blood drips on the floor which bothered her most. Where had they all come from? Trouble.
I knew we would argue about it. My memories, although distant, always featured arguments. Plus I had killed a man, and that was a hard one to explain. I couldn’t talk, walk or fight my way out of this one: I was stuck with it, and I would have to live with it. I had no idea what to do next, after all.
I must have wet myself in my sleep, because it was the puddle she saw first. It was probably the deepest sleep I had allowed myself in months; a few bottles of wine will have a rather adverse effect on a teenage liver. She shook me until I swore, and these were not the oaths of the faithful. My mind was in the process of collapsing in on itself, before the full reboot which only sleep could provide. I was not in any kind of place for rational conversation or simple requests. She asked if I wanted tea.
Could I tell her the truth? That what I wanted was sleep? That what I wanted was forgiveness, my own contrition and divine absolution. That what I wanted was some level of control over my erratic passage through the highways and byways of time. This was all beyond my level of interaction, at least for today. I nodded dumbly and went in search of some appropriate clothing for the day ahead.
Hey, imagine if I looked quite a bit like that doctor guy – I could dress up in his clothes and pretend to the world that I was he, at least on a superficial level. Yeah, that was not about to happen: we looked absolutely nothing alike, at least in part because I had the face of a fourteen year old boy.
Hey, what are we going to do when this child’s head starts appearing through the nearest expanding cervix and we have a small child to look after, while on the run from the police? No really: what the ever living fuck are we going to do? We need to get back to the present, and to the NHS at once.
Hey, what were we thinking, setting out on the road, away from our friends and family and every single piece of our support network? We thought we knew what we were doing because we had lived together for the best part of a decade, but we were shit out of luck now. Death becomes us.
Hey, try and imagine what you would do if you were lost like this: where you would go and what you would do. Right now I’m trying to work out if it would be a sensible idea to climb back under that bridge and hope for another disappearing time bubble piece of trickery. But I know it is gone.
All we can do is hold on tight and hope for the best. All we can do is stick together and protect each other. All we can do is hope against all hope that we can survive this mess of an existence just long enough to work out what is going on, and what we can do to get ourselves out of it. We do work well together, at least theoretically, so we can surely make this all come together somehow.
I am curled up on the ancient sofa, an empty cup of tea huddled in to my stomach while the TV puts its colour and light in to the ancient room. She was more understanding about the fact that I had killed a man than I would perhaps been of her. That said, I very much doubt that she would ever be in such a situation. I just seem to attract the worst kinds of scenarios, no matter what I do about it.
When I pulled myself together I told her stories of our life together, of our child and our holidays. She had seen our home, and wondered which bits of it were me and which were her. We compared notes about our crazy families and the ludicrous situations in which they had landed us. Laughter filled the air, as day and night swapped places, and we started to feel more at home in this house.
The kitchen was well stocked, and I cooked us the first of what we hoped would be many meals in the peace and calm of our new-found bolt-hole. The larder had been stocked well, and we put any thoughts of cannibalism far from our minds when we looked at the haunches of cured meats high up in the cold room. The joints looked far more porcine than human, and that was enough for me.
My stomach could not handle any wine, so I made do with some sparkling water, and some home-made raspberry cordial. We gave toasts to our joy, as fleeting as it may be, and wished our futures all the very best. Turning in for the night we shared a faint kiss, before climbing in to that huge bed, all covered in a thousand layers of fabric. And the joy of deep sleep took me away almost at once.
Screams shook me from my slumber, and a hand was upon me. The bed was filled with water, and a smell rose up from the sheets. Blood and anger, pain and frustration, anguish and shock, all vying together for the biggest impact. I had been at a birth before, but that was in a hospital, and I was utterly useless. I needed to grow up quickly and get involved. First things first: where are the towels?