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.