Time Laid Up In Store (Extract from novel now called In The Secret Places of the Stairs)

Gutter 09 | August 2013

Victor put his spoon down. ‘Malcolm. Do you have someone waiting for you at home while you work up here?’
The question came from nowhere and I didn’t know the answer. I didn’t have a wife, if that’s what he was asking. And I couldn’t be sure whether Jack would still be there waiting for me after I had left him to come up and spent the month here. And I didn’t feel like explaining any of it to Victor.
Peter came to my rescue, answering a different question. ‘Malcolm’s doing a splendid job up here. Fixing languids, polishing windchests, tuning vox humanas,’ he said, inaccurately.
My eyelids grew heavy with a peculiar afternoon weight. I wanted to languish in my Sunday afternoon nap, cocooned in my caravan, door and curtains closed. If anyone but Peter approached, I’d stop breathing and pretend to be out. I wanted to hold onto that sleepiness, so I took a raspberry from Peter’s plate and experimented with not saying goodbye; I stepped out the back door, as if for some air, and instead of going back inside, I slipped through the pine trees into the soft afternoon and the sanctuary of my caravan.