Three, four months ago you sit in your office, a book open on the desk, next to it a set of photocopies and print outs ready to be scrawled on. You are meant to be preparing for tomorrow. A few moments ago you left the room. A radio story took you years before. You switched off, flinching. But it was too late. You were there, and here. And you are struggling to read. Words have shadows behind them. Often this is a sign of an imminent migraine, but there is no pain behind the eyes. No flashes. No spirals. But you can feel your need to hide. The letters jumble. The shapes becoming unrecognisable. You close the blinds. If someone passes and asks you can say it’s the late summer sunlight, maybe a glare.
And as you tense, on the pages where sentences can be made out their context vanishes. Words sit on the page with an odd look. Letters reaching up. Letters reaching down. Shapes do not relate to meaning. It is obscured.
And you fidget. You scramble through the papers, the book. They are the same, all of them the same. Black lines and curves on the page. An unreadable incomprehensible mishmash.
They’ve gone. The words have gone.
You go to your door, lock it, and edge to the corner of the room where your coat hangs.
You crouch there, the coat over you.
Your breathing is erratic, your ears pulsing.
You close your eyes.
Try to concentrate on the rhythm of the breathing.
On the rhythm.
When you open your eyes a few minutes later you can make out titles on the spines of volumes on the shelves.
You unlock the door.
– I’m fine,
whispered to no one in particular, reassuring no one in particular.