A shrieking noise breaks through my dreamless sleep and yanks me out like a fish on a hook. At first, I can’t quite figure out where the noise is coming from. I blink a couple of times before I realise that it’s the alarm on my phone and that I should probably turn it off. I let loose a sigh that billows out in little white clouds against the chill of the air. The heating must be broken again.
I wait a little while, feeling too weighed down by a bone-deep exhaustion that never seems to leave, even after twelve hours of sleep. eventually, the ringing becomes too irritating to ignore, and I start to rummage through my sheets, only for them to become twisted. Panic starts to crawl its way up my throat when I still can’t find my phone, and I end up kicking all the bedding on to the floor. Instantly, tiny bumps appear on the exposed skin of my leg, where my pyjamas have ridden up during the night.
After ripping away my pillows, I finally find my phone. It was tucked underneath one of them. I press a hand to my chest in an attempt at slowing down my racing heart, and switch the alarm off. The silence of the morning stretches out, and no light slithers through the curtains. It’s half-six in the morning, but I feel like it’s midnight. Like I am the only person awake in the whole world.
The warmth of my blankets call to me, and I want curl back under the duvet, allowing myself to drift in and out of sleep until I feel rested enough to face the day. But there’s too much to do and I don’t have the time to put it off any longer. The work deadlines aren’t going to wait for anyone. So, instead, I stumble to the bathroom, and even though I’m not religious, I send up a prayer that the hot water will turn on.
I let the water run as I brush my teeth and inspect my winter-worn face in the mirror. I try not to cringe at my reflection. There’s dry patches of skin around my nose, purple bruises underneath my eyes and my cheeks are dotted red with acne. My reluctance to leave the house doubles.
Shivering as I strip away my clothes, I try to comfort myself with the promise of coffee later. I’m going to need the largest mocha to get be through work today. With that thought in mind, I step under the shower. Ice cold.