Sunday, 8 May 2011


The artificial light from the television illuminated Jacob Thompson’s face.
It was the one where Joey gets the turkey stuck on his head. He had seen it sixty-one times. With late night TV you learn, if ever unfortunate enough to enter the realm, that it is composed of nothing but re-runs, game shows and soft-core porn. He could, and should, have changed the channel, but that would no doubt have lead to a stronger feeling of déjà vu.

It didn’t really matter anyway; Jacob hadn’t slept in over thirty years.
He wasn’t quite sure why.
A man gets-a-wondering, curiosity and all - but nothing you would call concrete, nothing that could be fixed with a pill. It was different than that; unknown and more difficult. Quite strange.

He had stopped going to the doctors after the first ten months. Suspicions were raised, glances exchanged, his sense of normality was shattered.
He soldiered on because he had to. The fact that he continued to happily live and breathe was enough of a sign to leave things well alone. Jacob just wasn’t a sleeper.

His humble, one bedroom apartment was adorned with many nights’ hard labour. Model airplanes, handcrafted tables, short stories, to name just a few. It is amazing what one can achieve in those few precious hours whilst the world is asleep.
Catching up on reading was a particular plus; all those books he promised himself he would finish had in their former years remained neglected. After all this time ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ remained his favourite. During the first decade of sleepless nights he had tried to keep up with current music, listening to recent releases on a nightly basis.

However, once his wife and children had left, Jacob lost the urge. He didn’t resent them, but it was hard to look forward when he kept on looking back. Making things was better anyway, it kept his mind and hands busy, and it was nice to create.

At 4.30am every morning without fail, Jacob would go for a walk. He liked the time, not quite day and not quite night. He got to enjoy both worlds. The cry of alley cats and foxes knocking bins over would soon turn into the dawn chorus. The streets were dead; nothing stirred, too late for most people, too early for others. The milkmen and delivery drivers would wave as they passed and on occasion he would have a cigarette with Harry the tramp who took refuge under the local corner shop. Harry often swore he had survived Normandy, regaling Jacob with war stories despite the fact he was only forty-five. Jacob didn’t mind, it was nice to have company and as company went Harry was pretty interesting.

Jacob would make it to the hill about ten minutes before dawn on most days. He had witnessed every sunrise imaginable, vivid reds, siring yellows and heavenly whites, the kind that for a moment, a second, looked as if it would wipe the whole of creation clean. Sunrises unlike most things never became boring and he was thankful for that.

Three cafés in the area kept Jacob’s time and he frequented them all depending on his mood. Freshly baked goods and a hot beverage was still, to his mind, the best way to start a new day. He fancied a coffee this morning, he’d thought about one the entire walk there. He didn’t exactly need the caffeine, but boy did he still love the taste. After all, one has to enjoy the little things.

Sam Walker-Smart

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