1 birthday falling on Saturday, yours.

1 unwelcome slide into consciousness.

3 attempts to find reason to get out of bed.

1 threadbare dressing gown.

1 empty house, rented yet sincere.

2 items post, freshly picked from doormat.

1 card from father, containing 20 pound note and weak stab at humour.

1 lumpy jiffy bag, taped up so as to make impossible to breach with bare hands.

1 resigned wander into kitchen.

1 stubbed toe, big.

1 pair scissors, large enough to make half-hearted but sufficient attack on jiffy bag.

1 eggcup from mother, who has forgotten that it’s sister that likes eggs. You do not like eggs.

1 perky-looking signature on mother’s card, from her new partner.

1 living room chair, slumped into.

3 hours utterly meaningless TV.

1 shower, aimless and overlong.

1 walk into town, rainy.

1 large bar chocolate, purchased with 20 pound note.

1 latent alcohol dependency issue.

1 remaining grandmother who believes you don’t eat enough vegetables, and who, without fail, drops by when you are out.

2 carrots with accompanying soil, wrapped in newspaper, stuffed through letterbox.

1 depressing return home.

1 sad and misguided attempt to cook meal for self.

1 tablespoon sugar scraped with difficulty from 2 lb. bag purchased about three years ago for something that required sugar (pasta sauce perhaps?) and haven’t touched since, so has gone all hard, but is probably still OK, you think.

1 unrequited and abortive love affair from six or maybe seven years back, dealt with at the time and therefore holding no emotional potency.

1 onion, halved, with pips removed.

1 urgent need for music to distract self from grim reality of cooking task.

1 chicken, grated.

1 old tape radio music which you are unaware contains “Stay (I Missed You)” by Lisa Loeb, about four songs in, a song which six or seven years back was being played on the radio All The Time.

9 minutes of grace.

100ml tears from unexpected and uncontrollable bout of sobbing brought on by opening chords of fourth song and lasting well into the next, and beyond.

1 bottle grim whisky kept for use only in emergencies.

1 turn of volume knob (upward).

1/2 bar chocolate.

1 well-meaning neighbour with phenomenal memory for dates who remembers party you had exactly two years ago — when you still had some friends — and decides to drop by, just to say hi.

2 carrots, unwrapped.

4 knocks on door, unheard.

3 sheets newspaper, dismembered.

1 test of door handle.

2 carrots, washed and peeled with blurred vision.

1 tentative entrance.

2 carrots, chopped with a hatred and bitterness that wells up inside you like screaming fire.

1 chirpy “Hello?,” still unheard.

16 large marks in chopping board. Bit carried away there.

1 comforting hand laid on shoulder.

1 startled turn with unintentionally tight grip on sharp knife.

3 long seconds gasping eye contact.

1 whole lot of blood.

15 minutes seated at table in tear-stained stupor, gazing at light’s reflection in whisky bottle, and at dark slick growing around body on floor.

1 long, hard birthday think.

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