On the Evolution of My Condition

1. There is the winter night when, while asleep, I sweat so much the sheets are drenched, as if they have been left out in the rain.

2. That night I dream that I am living on the second floor of an open cinderblock apartment in a warm country. I am sitting in the kitchen conversing with a friend, an older woman wearing sturdy shoes and an apron over faded cotton clothing. Suddenly, from the stairwell that leads from the street into my kitchen we hear scraping sounds. I think I see a shadow slipping along the wall. I get up to investigate and the shadow becomes a young man coming at us with a knife. Arm raised, he rushes us; I wake shouting NO, NO, NO! I feel the blood coursing through my veins. Outside, it is snowing.

Later I wonder who is that young man? What does he stand for? But I know. He is the siren call of all of my distractions. If I am to defend myself against him I must not neglect to lock the gate.

3. Another night after dinner I doze off, the dog asleep on my feet. I dream that now and then, as we glance out the windows, we see foxes flickering along the hedges. One, a female, has a pipe wrench strapped to her left front leg. At first I think it is a kind of splint, but then the chipped orange paint and rusty square head of the wrench come into focus. The tool is clearly hobbling the fox. Who put it there? I wonder; what is a fox doing with a pipe wrench? It’s not as if she will open a pipe to fish out a ring or earring that has dropped down the drain, or have some reason to disconnect the sink. She stands there uncomfortably in the dusk, that fox, body curved slightly towards the pipe wrench bearing leg, as if she has an itch. The other foxes have run on. What is she to do now?

4. Most startling of all, today I discovered a new warning on a medication that I have been taking daily for years. Tiny print on a yellow sticker affixed to the prescription label warns Call your doctor immediately if you have mental mood changes like confusion, new/worsening feelings of sadness/fear, thoughts of suicide, or unusual behaviour. What has changed? Why has no one ever mentioned these side effects before? Or have I just failed to see them?

Without this drug I cannot breathe. I do not call my doctor.

5. It is the middle of the night and everything I have recounted here is true.

When I get back into bed, my sleeping partner asks, in an accusatory tone, have you been doing military construction? I am taken aback. Have I?

I have been awake in the middle of the night constructing this story, but is it military?

I still do not know the answer. Do you?

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