Against the pull of the bed, he rises with the sun and throws his blanket away. It was still quite dark outside and the cold bit though his feverish, bare skin. He had only woken up because the thoughts were so loud and none of them meant well.
It’d be another day, he thought as he stumbled around the room, feeling for a towel then a door knob. The shower head hisses like a thousand snakes and he reveled in the sensation of cold water beating his body into wakefulness. It does take a while for him to get the prompt he normally needs to start the day, yet the hour was still early enough and he resolved to revel as long as he wants.
A pair of dark eyes coldly snatched his own at a glance to the bathroom mirror. It met him with a gaze, a long and wretched stare, bloodshot as if it had only known how to deal in remorse, but in truth, he could not be fooled. He knew the person behind he stare, behind those deadpan eyes, far too well. He saw himself past himself, past all the features that would invite awe and prejudice, where he was truly naked. A child lost in all the troubles of his world. But he was no longer a child, nor could he seem to be, and so he only again rebukes the thought today and gets dressed for the day.
Groggy feet wander listlessly around the kitchen tiles as he prepares for himself a cup of coffee. Not too hot, not too war either; just enough cream and a mountain of sugar. Nods and gestures were soon replaced by spontaneous quips and laughter, a sure sign that professed breakfast was about to be served. He occupies his time waiting with the signs of the early dawn, the morning light very slowly reveals its golden color. He sees the sky, the sun, as it imparts to him a warm embrace and meets his eyes once more with the splendor of the earth. Beautiful mornings to contrast the everyday thoughts of the evening crashing down on him far too often now. The birds sing and the scent of scrambled eggs and damp soil linger all around. Despite everything, mornings are still mornings, he confided to himself, as he washes his plate. Life goes on.
There is contemplative silence among the smokers. He stands along the group, watching the leaves afar sweat, and fastidiously breathes smoke like a man in want of air. Five cigarettes is allowed to him to him every day, the first normally given right after breakfast he considered the most important. As he tosses the butt end of his cigarette into an urn, craters start to form on the puddles around. The other residents understood rain and they take themselves under the dry comforts of the gable.
The bell rings and everyone gathers around for ‘quiet time,’ the first activity of every day except for Sunday and the only activity in rehab he could truly appreciate. For an hour, only the sound of pages turning by residents who do not fall into the lure of sleeping upright and of the occasional coughs and sniffles are heard. Even now, he remains impressed by how quiet ‘quiet time’ really was. He himself had been silently progressing through a novel by Kate Atkinson, of a story about living the same life again and again after death. He shudders at the idea of having to live his life another time again from birth to the present and gives out a resigned sigh, realizing how much pity he secretly bears for himself. The hour comes by like an impatient bus driver and the bell rings once more. Chores.
Drenched with rain and adorned with sweat, he wipes his face with his bare, muddy hands and peers around to gauge his progress. There is still plenty of leaves to sweep and gather. Much to do, but he pays no mind. He is already quite used to chores. For more than half a year’s time, he had already been doing things he once thought he would never have to ever do. Scrubbing toilets, segregating trash, waxing wooden panels. Gathering leave surely would have been a menial task compared to digging trenches for the garbage or picking at unwanted rocks, but the rain had been relentless these past few days and it takes thrice as much effort sweeping up damp leaves with his broom. However he had also learned already in that duration it does not help to think about the slow progress of work and indeed it would not help to think at all except for the future, and so he thought of the phrase Coupez la difficulte en quatre, and little by little, like a promise fulfilled, the leaves all become swept, piled, and gathered.
A thirty minutes allowance for personal hygiene or rest ensues by the third bell ring. He opts to rest, he always did, and dwells among those who decided to do the same. The atmosphere is now more convivial than what it had been the early morning. Jests are shared by several residents and though he found the airy jokes a pleasant enough diversion, he still pertains to the fact that despite everything, the jesters are they themselves the jokes to be laughed at.
A familiar sound reverberates and the residents gather around a long table for the morning meeting. House affairs are the topic of these meetings. It is the same every day, and what was said yesterday is told and retold now and again in an almost always vain effort to change habits bred from the carelessness the residents brought with them inside the house. For an hour, concerns range from the closing unattended room lights to conserve electricity to returning the utensils to their proper places. He cannot help but not listen in at these meetings. He sits among the group but he is also far away, wondering of things past and things to come. The long drag of an hour eventually ends and the residents all restlessly file in the kitchen for the long-awaited lunch.
Lunch is the word ‘lackluster’ in the form of food, he quips to himself as the residents all crowd in the kitchen like deprived sheep dying to graze. Nonetheless, despite the own complaints he never actually voices out, he still helps himself to as much as he could. To the table he brings with himself a hoard of rice, consuming everything at an unnecessarily short amount of time, quick enough to be the first in line for the second cigarette of the day.
The bed shivers as he trembles onto its comforts. Siesta, the Spanish tradition of afternoon nap when the sun reaches its zenith, was also part of the everyday routine. The weight of his body seems to deeply increase as he dives onto his assigned bed. The mattress, he thought, carried now more than just himself. He tries to sleep, as much as his body wanted sleep, but he cannot. His mind is on full throttle again. A perfect picture of the disharmony of his body and of his mind. Concededly he opens his eyes and brings his right hand directly to the center of his vision. There are times, most especially during the small hours of the day when the revelries become more introspective. All attentions becomes focused on observing the folds and creases of his palms. These are my hands. How come? Why am I here? Why will I be wherever! Why these problems? Why these demands? He complains to himself. All these things, why? In this regard, he makes him own hands like the stars, becoming endless sources of curiosity. But where are his answers? Could there ever be such an answer to such questions? Was everything just theory? Sooner or later, people just accept that they simply are. He did not want to live like that.
He would not.