Saturday

Some hours before dawn, she wakes to find herself already in motion, pushing back the covers from a sitting position, and then rising to her feet. It’s not clear to her when exactly she became conscious, nor does it seem relevant. She’s never done such a thing before, but she isn’t alarmed or even faintly surprised, for the movement is easy, and pleasurable in her limbs, and her back and legs feel unusually strong. So, she just stands there, aware of her own patient breathing and of the wintry bedroom air on her skin. Her bedside clock shows three forty. She honestly has no idea what she’s doing out of bed: she has no need to relieve herself, nor is she disturbed by a dream or some element of the day before, or even by the state of the world. It’s as if, standing there in the darkness, she’s materialized out of nothing, fully formed, unencumbered. She doesn’t feel tired, despite the hour or her recent labours, nor is her conscience troubled by any recent case. In fact, she’s alert and empty-headed. Actually, more like inexplicably elated.

With no decision made, no motivation at all, she begins to move towards the nearest bedroom window and experiences such ease and lightness in her tread that she suspects at once she’s dreaming or sleepwalking. If it is the case, she’ll be rather disappointed. A mere dream wouldn’t interest her; that this should be real is a richer possibility. And she’s entirely herself, he is certain of it, and she knows that sleep is behind him: to know the difference between it and waking, to know the boundaries, is the essence of sanity. “Waking Life” taught her that one.

As she glides back across her floor with almost comic facility, the prospect of the experience ending saddens her briefly, but then the thought is gone. In this, she’s selfish as well as solicitous. She doesn’t wish to be asked what she’s about, or what answer could she give, so why relinquish this moment in the attempt? She quickly turns back to the window and throws opens the shutters. Her skin tightens as the February air pours in around her, but she isn’t troubled by the cold. From the third floor, she faces the night: the city in its icy white light, the skeletal trees in the square, and thirty feet below, the black arrowhead railings like a row of spears.

And now, what days are these? Baffled and fearful, she mostly thinks when she takes time from her weekly round to consider. But she doesn’t feel that now. She leans forwards, pressing her weight onto her palms against the sill, exulting in the emptiness and clarity of the scene. She likes the symmetry of black cast-iron posts and their even darker shadows, and the lattice of cobbled gutters. The overfull litter baskets suggest abundance rather than squalor; the vacant benches set around the circular gardens look benignly expectant of their daily traffic – cheerful lunchtime office crowds, the solemn, studious boys from the Indian hostel, lovers in quiet raptures or crisis, the crepuscular drug dealers, the ruined old lady with her wild, haunting calls. “Go away!” she’ll shout for hours at a time, and squawk harshly, sounding like some marsh bird or fascinating zoo creature.

The city is a success. A brilliant invention, a biological masterpiece – millions teeming around the accumulated and layered achievements of the centuries, as though around a coral reef, sleeping, working, entertaining themselves, harmonious for the most part, nearly everyone wanting it to work.

An habitual observer of her own moods, she wonders about this sustained, distorting euphoria. Perhaps down at the molecular level there’s been a chemical accident while she slept – something like a spilled tray of drinks, prompting dopamine-like receptors to initiate a kindly cascade of intracellular events; or it’s the prospect of a Saturday.

Her honesty spoke; she just wasn’t ready. She didn’t question her abilities, she questioned her preparedness. Being catapulted into a realm she had no idea she was even capable of achieving had caused her passion to desire something so beautiful, artistic, and so much more than herself. It was time, but where had she been before? Nothing seemed familiar, and yet everything was at peace. To find solace in the storm, to step forth in youthful vigor unabashedly.

This is Saturday.

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