I couldn’t sleep for laughing, then when sleep did crack through the laughter, that sleep was distracted, unfocussed, bad at being sleep. I woke giddy, was a useless, sore morning person. Living in the land of the living. I was making for a bad guest, an irresponsible, unreliable narrator. I needed to buck my ideas up. I looked out of that borrowed window, composing myself out of old notes, watched the last leaves clinging to the trees. Those poor saps probably thought they had won some kind of prize. My hosts looked over in my direction, as if they could actually hear the things falling over in my mind, the clattering, the accidents setting fire to accidents.
And then to the ceremony and the reception. I was not sure where the animals – toads, spiders, cats – had come from, they crept / hopped / prowled across the hall. My gaze tracked their progress and I saw a cupboard and, wanting to get away from things, tried the handle, entered.
The cupboard was empty (in that it had some things in it, but nothing that seemed important), but in it there was a door. I hesitated, and some of that old dread of being unreliable, un-bucked up, came creeping back. I push open the door, entered another cupboard, with another door, so…
Much like the last one. This time, I locked the door behind me. In case anyone was following. It is possible that ‘cupboard’ could describe many different types of small room. This one was being used to store a lot of towels. No one else was around. I had locked the door behind me, but there was nothing to say that someone would not suddenly come through the other door. If that was what the story wanted. No one was going to suddenly come through the door. I took a step back, then launched myself in to the softness of the towels because no one would ever know. However. I had failed to notice that shelving punctuating the towels, giving their stacking structure, and, as a result of my leap, took an edge of wood to the ribs. No one saw, but I was embarrassed – and embarrassed of being embarrassed all by myself.
The next cupboard was a store for dried food. The one after that, I think, was the one containing ring binders with cryptic names felt-tipped on their sides. “Change Quorum ’97.” “Revamp Q-7.” I was starting to worry I might not be able to find my way back through the cupboards, even though each one had only two doors and the way back was just to pass back through each cupboard until I got back to where I had come to get away from.
In the next cupboard there was a funeral going on. The room was not small, it might have been stretching use of the word to describe it as a cupboard.
I saw those animals again – the toads, spiders and cats, creeping / hopping / prowling through the mournful crowds – and followed them, excusing-me in soft tones all the way, towards the door on the far side of the cupboard.
This lead to a cupboard as big and as outside as the outside world and I was still clattering through, still with accidents setting fire to accidents all the time. Irresponsible, unreliable. When I fell through the door and into that big, cloud-stretched cupboard, I couldn’t breathe for laughing again.