Summer night’s insomnia

All night long I have been looking for something — anything — to shovel the heavy air off me. It is mid-summer in Cape Town and the build-up of the shimmering windless day is now filling out my bedroom.

Tired. Sweaty. Desperate to sleep. I find myself unable to unmoor into the abyss of sleep.

I get up to sit on my balcony. I wish I smoked. Because I would light one and watch the thin wisps of blue residue from smouldering cigarette spiralling into the heat. That would give me something useful to do. But instead, I just sit here, hoping to cool down.

The stars are out and in my tired condition I wonder if it would be possible to gauge the time from the position of the stars. In the distance I a see flashing lights rising up from the horizon. It’s a big jetliner climbing into the sky. It’s huge and banking to the north. Bound for Europe.

With everything in me I want to be on that plane. I wouldn’t even mind being cramped in a middle seat.

I close my eyes and imagine tucking into a horrible foil plate of airline veg and steak, a cheap plastic goblet of wine and the promise of a landing in the cold embrace of winter.

I sit for a while, watching the plane’s flashing lights disappear in the north — disappearing without me. As it flies up the West Coast I am once again dunked back into the windless night.

I get up to go back to bed. I lay down. My sheets are cooled by my sweat.

I enjoy the relief. Because I know it is only temporary. And judging by the stars, the night is still young.