The Pattern

On that morning he just kept lying in bed. He generally forced himself to get up as soon as he woke, but that morning he decided that he’d just have a bit of a lie-in. He knew that he’d have to resist lying around the next morning. It would be habit-forming, and he didn’t want to form that habit. But he decided that it was worth the risk for one morning.

Most mornings after he’d forced himself out of bed, he fed the cats, and then made himself a cup of coffee. Then he went to the bathroom, and lit his first cigarette of the day.

But that morning was obviously different. He never smoked in bed, for one thing, so he put off the cigarette. He’d had a friend die in a fire that had started from passing out in bed. Of course, the guy had also just come home from the bar, and Norman barely drank, so passing out wasn’t really that much of a possibility. Nonetheless, he’d taken it as a lesson and never smoked in bed.

Nor did he eat in bed. There had been one morning when he’d been eating oatmeal, and he’d slopped a little. After he’d wiped things up, he still needed to put the sheets in the wash. He’d decided then and there that eating in bed was going to be forbidden. He didn’t really eat much anyway, and when he did, he always got himself a plate and ate at the table.

Even if the TV was going. If it was a good show, he might turn the TV so that he could watch, otherwise, it was kind of like listening to the radio while he ate. Or he might read for a while, instead.

In any case, a lie-in wasn’t that luxurious. He couldn’t smoke or eat, so all that he was left with was staring at the ceiling. So that’s what he did.

As he stared, he tried to find a pattern in the ceiling plaster. It’s what his mind always did… Bathroom tiles, kitchens… whatever. Most patterns sprang up right in front of him, easy to find, but the pattern in the ceiling was elusive.

But then he found it. There were two lumps of plaster shaped exactly the same way. They were in opposite corners of the room, and so he decided that that must be the pattern. It took the whole ceiling, and the two matching lumps were just the beginning and end of it. If the ceiling had kept going in either direction, it would have started to repeat some of the swirls and lumps of the pattern.

He knew that it didn’t mean much of anything, and he hadn’t lain-in for very long before he decided that it was time to get up and feed the cats. They came up on the bed and demanded that he get up. One of them started pawing at his head, and what with the lack of eating and smoking, there didn’t seem to be much point in trying to stay in bed.

But when he got up, he was still glad that he’d found the pattern. He knew that it didn’t mean much, but he still got some comfort from it. Every morning, when he got up, he felt some reassurance knowing that the pattern was up there over him.


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