I’m not sure, but I think I just heard the cat mew. I’m standing under a street lamp with my toothbrush in my hand.
Did I come out looking for the toothpaste?
It seems to be pretty late in the night. I have a strange taste in my mouth. Is that why I wanted to brush my teeth?
It’s a strong, sweet-ish taste. It’s a taste I know but can’t recollect just now. A liquid. Swirling in a bottle, swirling in my glass. Ice cubes floating in it. The cool transparency of the ice cubes against the swirling dark black. There. Now I can very nearly recollect the smell.
I’m pretty sure it is past twelve. Maybe two, three. Certainly past one. Why have I come out onto the street, toothbrush in my hand, looking for toothpaste, at this ungodly hour?
My head feels heavy. The light is hurting my eyes. When I look up, carefully shading them with my palms, the light seems far above me, almost like light from a shooting star. My very own. It doesn’t leave me with a good feeling.
Where is that damned cat? And where did I put the knife?
I fumble in my pockets, struggling to recollect through the fog in my head the exact sequence of events before I landed up on the street. The cat leapt across the room. The room was dark, the lights were switched off. I heard a soft thud immediately after. That was probably the pack of cards cascading down. Even before I could move to the table the cat had landed on the ledge, a silhouette against the open window. Our eyes met for one split moment, its eyes glowing, belligerent.
Then I went blank. When I came to, I remember my head throbbing unbearably as I bent down to lift the cards. I felt something sticky on them, thick, but I couldn’t see what it was in the dark. It clotted and smudged between my fingers. I dropped the cards. That was when I heard the cat again.
Bastard. I’ll get you still. The knife’s in my hand again and I can feel the same sticky substance on it. With one finger I scoop some off the blade, glinting in the light of my street-side meteor, and then lick it off my finger. The taste is wholly unpleasant.
Then it comes back to me: the body slumping forward, clutching the washbasin for support, staggering out to the kitchen, all the while leaving a trail of crimson. I picked up the toothbrush, which was lying bristles down on a clean tile on the bathroom floor. The toothpaste was missing. I can’t sleep unless I have brushed my teeth.