This tune – The Streets‘ Blinded by the lights – is playing in my head in my sleep. I don’t know why. It just lodged itself there and won’t go away, only now there’s a slow, rhythmic beeping going on. Beep – beep – beep. Long – long – short.
Lights are blinding my eyes. (long – long – short)
People pushing by (long-long-short), then walkin’ off into the night.
It goes on like this for a while, and I find I’m dancing in my sleep to this new back beat, subtly bobbing my head on the pillow. Then I wake up.
The beeping carries on. It’s familiar, signalling something that isn’t clear to me right now. My brain is still cobwebby with sleep. When I open the bedroom door, the cobwebs blow away.
The landing and the kitchen are filled with smoke. Of course, the fire alarm. I rush to the kitchen and find a saucepan burning on the gas hob. The smoke is thick, acrid, on the verge of turning into fire. Inside the pan are the charred remains of a pot noodle soup which Ben had put on the stove to heat somewhere between yesterday and today. I run into the living room to wake him, but he is stupid and heavy with sleep.
I thank fate, the gods and every other supernatural force out there for the fact that our fire alarm actually works. As I pour cold water onto the pot and watch the smoke plume out, I realise how lucky we are – that I’d only gone to sleep a few hours earlier, that I actually woke up in time to turn off the hob, that this didn’t turn into fire.
This morning, the flat still smells bitter. Ben wakes up at 8.30 because he wet the couch. A large patch of urine is soaking into the sofa – a futon mattress that will cost £300 to replace.
I tell him, very calmly, about the smoke that almost turned into fire. He has no idea how it might have happened.
He remembers nothing.