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God only knows what made me pop the question. I mean, I was in no condition to travel anywhere. I was about as lucid as a brick wall, and probably equally as responsive to external stimuli. Looking in the mirror, I noted that I looked like total crap: dark circles under my eyes, hollow cheeks and red eyes. I not only looked like a zombie, I felt like one.
What I should have done was gotten my butt into the uni health service for a checkup. That’s what most people would probably do after they have been struck by lightning. But not I. No. It was back on the road for me.
Amanda lived in Merewether, which is a somewhat posher inner city suburb of Newcastle not far from the beach of the same name. So it was that I soon found myself on the bus yet again heading towards town.
I disembarked and started to walk along the broad, open streets of Merewether. I could smell the salty sea air from the beach just a kilometer or so away. There were mostly older red brick homes in that area, from the turn of the twentieth century; with the odd low-rise block of flats here and there. Front gardens were well kept, with pretty flowers, small trees and with hedges neatly trimmed; a sure sign that this was a pensioners’ area. Not that I was paying much attention.
Somehow in my groggy state I found 22 Jameson Street. It was a newer, pale brick apartment block of two stories that looked like it had been designed by a two year old with his first Lego set. I discovered the entrance round the side, and began to climb the stairs to the second floor. I think I was about three stairs from the top when I realised I might not make it. A sense of total exhaustion so totally overtook me, and such was the dizziness inside my skull, that my ascending came to a total stop. I teetered there for a moment, like a tall tree in the forest at the moment the lumberjack’s axe slices through the last layer of wood, waiting to topple earthwards. But somehow I forced myself to take deep breaths, and after regaining some sense of myself, I clambered to the top of the stairs. Moments later I was pressing the doorbell to flat 2C.
The door swung open, and I don’t know who was more startled; Amanda at seeing me in the state I was in, or me seeing the look of total shock on her face.
“Not actually. But I can do party tricks if you like.”
She took my hand and pulled me inside. I found myself sprawled out on the soft, cream coloured sofa, head propped up under a cushion and my long legs hanging over the end of the armrests. Next Amanda was sitting beside me, force feeding me a cup of water. All I could think of was that it felt really good to be looked after by a woman. My mother had left home when I was 15, and that was about the last time I could remember any attention from a female. If you can call being screamed at “attention.”
“You’re an idiot.”
“Nobody’s perfect. I can see aura’s though. That’s one of my party tricks, you know.”
“Have you been drinking?”
“Why does everyone keep asking me that?”
“No! Jesus, can’t a guy experience a simple lightning strike with dignity these days?”
She put her hand on my forehead. It felt so nice to be touched by a girl that I reached over and grabbed her other hand.
“Thanks,” I said. Then I fell asleep.
There was a blinding flash of light and I jerked awake in the dark. I remembered where I was, and there was that weird feeling of being in someone else’s home.
Waking up like that was something I would experience a lot during those times. It was if an electrical circuit in my brain had short-circuited while sleeping, sending a blast of electricity through my head and limbs. My whole body would twitch or jerk, often violently, and I would awaken immediately.
I knew there had been a dream, and I knew it was something profound, but I couldn’t quite remember what it was.
I began to feel my surroundings. I noted that I was still on the sofa, and I had a soft woolen blanket covering me. Quite clearly it was late. A sense of uneasiness sat with me, and I knew it was something important. After a short while, it came to me. It was the light that had disturbed me. With that thought images began to flood into my mind. The tunnel, the sprawling panoramas, the voice, the light… I was starting to remember bits and pieces of what had happened on the beach.
Somehow in the darkness it seemed OK to have these thoughts, these dreams, these visions. At night there was nobody to tell me that they were not real, no real world to have to reconcile them with, no disbelieving friends to have to explain them to, or hide them from.
I lay there for some time before deciding that sleep was the last thing I wanted. So I sat up. As my eyes adjusted to the light I could make out the curtains, big TV and the fridge. I figured that there must be a light switch near the door, and began stumbling round in the dark trying to find it. I was about to give up when the apartment door swung open. Amanda switched on the light.
“Just looking for the light.”
She looked at me in a strange kind of way, and I wasn’t sure if I was welcome or not. She had a white plastic shopping bag.
“I just went out to get a few things. Sorry, it took me a bit longer than expected. You better sit down.”
“I’m fine, really. I was just about to leave.”
“Don’t be stupid. It’s late. You should stay for the night.”
She put the shopping bag on the table and came over and pushed me back onto the lounge. Next she was handing me an apple and a glass of water.
“You look a lot better.”
“Yeah, I’m feeling better come to think of it. Wanna go out for a run?”
“Do you always have to be an idiot?”
I took a mouthful of water and a bite from the apple. That was when I realised I was sitting right beside a beautiful young woman, looking into her eyes. And she had her arm on my leg.