Hover

The hand hovers there in the darkness above me. Not just once, but all night. I pretend to sleep but I’m awake. Every time I open my eyes, its there. I know what its waiting for, its waiting for me to reach out. I am not going to reach out.

Its there every night, not above my face but close to my arm, where my fingers could easily reach up and grab on. What does it want? Its just an inch above me. Hovering. In the darkness, just a hand and nothing else. There’s no arm, it ends as the palm reaches the wrist.

Its luminous, I can see through it without really seeing inside it. Its long fingers stretching towards me in the darkness as if it can’t quite reach me. I think it could reach me really, but its waiting for me to choose. But what will happen if I touch that hand, if I reach out and clasp it? It looks as if I could move my hand through it. What if I slap it away?

I close my eyes. I open them again. Its still there. Night after night, I don’t sleep. I pretend sleep. It hovers, waiting for me. I know it wants me to reach out. Even if I snuggle right down under the covers, I know its still there. Hovering. Waiting. Sometimes I want to reach out in the darkness and touch it but I resist, I must resist. I sleep under the kitchen table after breakfast, in the daylight and it does not appear.

But the night is a wholly other matter, wherever I am in the house in the darkness, it appears. I tried leaving the lights on all night, but the switch tripped, the lights went out and there it was in front of me. Hovering, the same as always. Waiting for me, just waiting. I tried candles and I could still see it there, just at the edge of the light waiting for me. It is a thing of darkness and I cannot bring myself to touch it but I am so tired.

There is some kind of inevitability to it, it has waited so patiently. I start to feel as if it deserves it, as if I am at fault, as if I am punishing it. One night I almost give in, reach out my spindly fingers towards it in the darkness. I see it reach ever so slowly closer in response but at the last minute I pull back quickly. I curl up into a ball in the darkness. I feel guilty. When I look again, it is still there hovering. Patient. When I do that a second time, almost and then not, a third time, on the fourth time, when I look at the hand one finger is moving, tapping annoyed on a soundless invisible desk. I feel guilt, I feel like I am failing.

And then December, and suddenly it is gloved. Hovering. Gloved. And there is a hint of red reflected in the whiteness of the glove as if this might be the hand of Father Christmas. But I know it is not the hand of Father Christmas. It is December, the season to be jolly but I can’t sleep, haven’t slept, won’t sleep. And Christmas Eve is getting closer and I know its still going to be there, waiting, patient. Hovering. Because its going nowhere until I reach out and touch those fingers.

And Christmas eve arrives and I can’t focus. I sit under the kitchen table all day. I will the darkness to arrive. I accept the inevitable. I wait for the sun to sink, for the dimness of dusk before the fall of night. I don’t switch on any of the lights. I wait patiently and then there it is. I see it there in front of me, reaching out and I reach forward, out and our fingers touch, I clasp on and…

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