Just Another Winter Night

I gaze at the photograph on my laptop screen. It’s one of an inverted glass bottle stuck in an iron fence. I cock my head, stare at it a little more, squinting. There’s something about it that made me stop as I scrolled down, going through a photographer’s blog. Something that reminds me of something else, that fills me with a familiar and not altogether unwelcome feeling. I think of park benches in the morning, wet with dew, of coffee and of hand-knitted scarves.  Frowning, I give up trying to dissect what I feel and open the next tab: Facebook.

Photographs. More photographs. I click on the link to an album. I hover over a photograph for a moment. It’s one of friends, laughing, smiling. One of those pictures that have a yellow tungsten glow- a picture that you look at and smile as you remember a perfect day spent with perfect people.

But I don’t even know these people. I resist the perverse temptation to click on the photo to make it larger. There’s nothing like Facebook to make you realize how you hardly ever look good enough in photographs. And how alone you feel.

I give myself a mental shake, telling myself to shut up with the self-pitying thoughts already. I notice that I have a notification. I click on it. Somebody has ‘liked’ my profile picture. I stare at the photo. I look too pale. Maybe I should go out in the sun more, I think. Or turn off the tube-lights the next time I take a photo.

I sigh and sit back in my desk chair. It’s then that I realize that the electricity is gone. It’s been gone for a while, in fact. I’ve been hunched over the computer for some time, and my shoulders ache. With a pang of guilt over the time I’ve wasted, I realize that I’ve spent more than two hours online, doing what is best described as ‘nothing’. Stretching, I feel a pleasant kind of pain course down my spine. I sigh and shut my laptop, enveloping myself in complete darkness. After some blind groping around on my desk, I find my book light and turn it on. It’s funny how I use everything but a flashlight as a light source. I turn around and spot my mug of green tea, lying on a saucer on my bed. It’s ice-cold now. I turn to the bathroom to pour it down the drain, when I remember that I had put honey in my tea. Suddenly, I feel an intense craving for something sweet. I gulp it down, iciness and all, shuddering as it trickles down my throat.

My room is chilly. I touch the heater. With the electricity gone, it’s just a cold piece of metal. But my hands are so cold that I imagine that it has some warmth still. I curl up on the chair beside it, pulling my shawl tighter around me. I open a book, and clip my book light where it belongs. Maybe Jane Eyre will do for company until sleep rescues me from the frigid, solitary night.