2:57am EAT Soweto, Moshi, Tanzania

The sheet snagged spitefully at her feet, having writhed snakelike around her ankles, trapping them. She cussed like a trooper into the darkness as she kicked and thrashed to release them from their confines and finally, triumphant, she swung her legs out onto the marble tiled floor. Her hand groped for the phone, her fingers maliciously finding the on button in the dark, the cussing continued and as the phone lit up it cast an eerie orb of light around her and the air was truly blue.

“Three o’ bloody clock. Can’t even make it to the 4am witching hour. Jeez.”  The orb of light diminished and the darkness laughed at her, triumphant.

Release us, help us, don’t abandon us like this.

The voices continued, clear and haunting, their identities as blatant as the tone of accusation.

“Jeez. 3am! I don’t do this! I always sleep like a baby. NOTHING disturbs my sleep.”

Release us, help us, don’t abandon us like this.

The final cuss of exasperation and defeat caused the heavens to rumble and her long gone parents to toss and turn in their heavenly cots. Several other, now lost friends and soul mates chuckled at the expletives, but they had never made it to a heavenly cot anyway.

The sound of the toilet flushing and the running water expunged the voices for a moment. The very act of defeat and rising from her bed had bought some degree of peace it seemed. She paused as the softness of the towel caressed her fingers and shoo’d away the wetness. I could cheat and just dive back under the sheet. She sighed, knowing it wouldn’t work even as the voices faded back in.

Release us, help us, don’t abandon us like this.

5:00am EAT Soweto, Moshi, Tanzania

The chair scraped deafeningly across the marble tiled floor and she smiled cruelly, who cares. Why shouldn’t my lights and noise disturb the dogs and cause their silence piercing, aggression fuelled barking. I’m up, so who the heck cares eh? She stomped through to the kitchen her feet slapping cruelly on the floor. Coffee.

Do it, go on, do it. Kill it. Release us one way or another.

The voices droned on, she was resigned to them now, like her tinnitus they were a thunderous silent enemy the rest of the world couldn’t hear or understand. Two hours she’d given them. Two hours in the dead of night with a full day’s work ahead of her and still they whined.

Do it, go on, do it. Kill it. Release us one way or another.

“Jeez. I gotta accept it. I can’t do this. Enough is enough. Two bloody long years and for what?” The coffee splashed over the rim of the mug as she created a typhoon with the spoon, she barely noticed. “I’m a failure. No pussy footing, no come on now let’s look at this differently. NO. It’s crap. It’s all been for nothing, I can’t do this. Waste of time. Forget it. Time to give up and go home. Face facts. If this has failed nothing else is worth even considering, close the door, don’t look back.” She slumped on the sofa coffee in hand and biscuit packet torn open as if savaged by one of the hungry dogs.

Coffee and biscuits at 5am, who cares. It would be chocolate if I had any. She stuffed a custard cream in her mouth and chewed noisily her face a mask of “who gives a sh**”.

Do it, go on, do it. Kill it. Release us one way or another.

“Shut the **** up will ya?” She crammed another biscuit into her mouth, coffee dribbling down her chin as if an indictment of her failure. She was done. Finished. Kaput. Out of here. It was over. Even the voices knew it.

7am EAT Soweto, Moshi, Tanzania

She opened the curtains and let the daylight intrude her solitary hidey hole. She knew what the picture would be and she was right, grey, cloudy, and rain in the air. She opened the door and stepped out into the real world shielding her eyes as she surveyed the scene. It was gonna rain again, she knew it.

She turned with a quiet smirk on her face, getting back inside before the ritual of good mornings had to be completed. She had all the company she needed right here, right here in her head. She didn’t need flesh and blood and their hearty hellos.

So? What’s it gonna be? Please…

Only it wasn’t please was it? It was pl…e…ea…ea…se! Jeez can’t they give it a break I’m trying, isn’t that enough?

9:00am EAT Soweto, Moshi, Tanzania

Can’t stop to report. Sorry.

Oh sh** work, now what am I gonna do? They’ll think it’s the rain. They’ll think I’m skulking indoors like a baby cos’ I hate the mud. Nice idea actually but no, it’s not that.

Her fingers tapped out the messages hastily. No thoughts to the words just get it done and said. Cope. I’m out of it.

11:00am EAT Soweto, Moshi, Tanzania

Coffee. I need coffee, and an apple. Something healthy to purge the excesses of the past hours. The fridge door closed angrily, the lack of fruit sent by the gods to taunt her. Her head thrummed and her eyes throbbed but she was smiling and the voices were silent.

They were asleep now, curled up like giant kittens. Two fully grown men, one dark, sultry and handsome in a soulful, enigmatic way. The other blonde, sun worn, hearty good looks and easy charm, every young girls dream. They’d had a hard night, or so it seems, calling her up out of her bed and demanding attention one way or another.

Her characters had insisted on closure. Get it finished or dump it, don’t just abandon us three thirds formed and in the middle of an epic tale.Her novel was safe, it had weathered the crisis. The characters had called her from her bed and forced her fingers to tap out their existence.It had been close, a real crisis of confidence.

But … had she ever really considered giving up?


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