Comfort

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You pissed yourself. Really? Is this really where you want this to go? Well, keep going then. Warm up your legs; you’ll regret it in a few hours, you know. They’ll be rank and cold and they’ll freeze when you get out of the sleeping bag. But that’s what you were aiming for, wasn’t it? Make yourself more disgusting. Fine.

No, you’re not in the ballet – that was just a dream. It was a videotape you used to watch when you were a kid, a documentary about Meryl Tankard, and there was that sleep scene, remember? She was choreographing a sleep dance, and she had all the dancers lie on the ground in sleep poses, then mimic each other’s poses, then do all the poses one after the other. You used to watch that documentary over and over. That’s what you’re thinking of, right?

You can sleep-pose along with the best of them.

Wrap up tight. Tuck in your knees, flip the sleeping bag under. Hood up, head down, pull the strings. What more do you want? You’re a man in a sleeping bag in a ditch by a road. You could have been a ballet dancer. You’re here instead. It’s almost the same.

Bury your head with leaves. That’s the way. More insulation, maybe rain cover, maybe snow cover – but don’t hope for that.

You’re not George Orwell. He wrote a book about it. That’s what made him George Orwell.

You can feel romantic about the whole thing if you want to. It won’t last. You’ll remember you’re an idiot. George Orwell did. Wait, did he? Well, if he didn’t, he should have. You’re better than him, remember that: you’ve done nothing important and said nothing about it. It’s more honest. You’re a man in a piss-filled sleeping bag on the side of a road and it’s your own fault, your own choice even, and that’s all there is to it and what does it matter anyway?

All right. All right. It matters. It’s all very romantic and it’s all very tragic too. You’re all alone, lying in the ditch beside a small road in the Lithuanian countryside on a late autumn evening. It’s freezing cold, but the snow hasn’t started yet. The sky is black and looks about to burst. You’re lying, half-freezing, your knees tucked up and your arms tight against your chest, your head covered with dead leaves. Your limbs, always thin, are brittle now. You could pass for trash, a few garbage bags, a rolled-up carpet. Soon it will be dark: no one will drive by here until morning.