Gone are the days of 7am rises. I have long forgotten the jarring sirens reminding me that in order to make my parents proud I have to get up and begin the treacherous commute to my 9-5.
These days, my alarm clock is the morning (...or afternoon) sun flirting with my eyelids and the harmonious cry of the dog next door begging to be let inside.
I turn over onto my back. I sigh when I look at my phone screen. 6 missed calls from her. I open the voicemail, cringing as she speaks, the drunken tone of her voice mirroring the audible cluster of people behind her.
“Jessica! Hi, oh wait, it’s your voicemail. Haha. Listen, we’re all at The Green Tara, why don’t you come down for a pint? I got you oh- no it’s voicemail- look I know you probably don't want to talk but- double please- look. It’s me, I’m calling you at... 1am, well, actually it’s twelve because the clocks went.. I don’t kn-”
It’s been months. Actual months.
I don’t think about her.
Her body, the dimples on her cheeks or the tears that slip away from the safety of her eyes. I don't think about the way our mornings were spent looking into each other, how the curve of the two of us melted into one tangle of limbs under the sheets... going onto my Instagram to distract myself.
Oh. The app won’t load, my iPhone informs me that “this accessory is no longer supported by SIVIS.” What the fuck is SIVIS? Guess this is what I get for a) not keeping up to date with Apple and clinging onto my 5C for as long as possible and b) downloading all that illegal porn.
With my device handing in its notice to inform me that it will no longer be entertaining me, the only thing left to do is get out of bed. My body screams in protest as I drag it out of it’s comfort. I telepathically say good morning to Mrs Otterman who is sat contemplating on the windowsill. It’s the afternoon, but she won’t know, she’s a cat and cat’s aren't well known for being able to read clocks, hence why they are never on time.
It looks like she's frowning.
Weird. The moon hasn’t left the sky yet. Despite the sun battling with all its strength the moon won't be outshined. My hair is greasy.
It’s unusually cold for this time of year but the air feels fresh. Nice.
I try to coax Mrs Otterman inside. Persuading her to do anything these days is a wasted effort, growing up has morphed her into a character as stubborn as Simon, my best friend, who has owned her all this time.
Si moved into the flat downstairs last May, which has become increasingly more useful over time. Yesterday he left me a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates outside my door. I need to say thank you to him, actually. The wine was probably stolen from the bar he works at, but I love him for it, with or without his kleptomania.
Giving up on my ‘Make Friends with Mrs Otterman’ mission after roughly 45 seconds of trying, I head to my bathroom while strategically avoiding any mirrors and/ or other reflective surfaces that could give insight to what currently represents my face.
The water doesn't turn on. Except it does.
“Jessica. Good afternoon.”
The fuck? I turn around fast, expecting to see someone inside my flat. A murderer, rapist, at the very least Simon playing a hilarious april fools joke on me. What’s the date today? Do clocks go forward on April first?
“Will you be taking the SIVIS news or your social media updates first?”
I’m not going to answer back. Especially not when the voice seems to be coming from, well obviously not, but… it sounds as if the voice is coming from the tap.
“News then. Water shortage action- plan to be delivered tonight by the Prime Minister where she will be introducing schemes to”
The voice doesn't seem to be aware of me, stood in my bathroom staring at the tiles in complete shock. My nipples are errect, why is it so fucking cold?
“Hello? Simon if this is you please-”
“Would you like me to continue.” The voice says everything as a statement. A fact, even though it just asked me a question.
“No, I don’t- why am I….” I trail off, unsure how to finish my sentence due to bewilderment and also the fact that if this is a joke I don't want to allow the pranksters to enjoy their hijinks by talking back to the tap. The tap. Which is talking to me. Brilliant.
“Jessica, you have 6 unread SIVIS news articles.”
“Ethiopia is the last country to join the rest of the world in celebration after curing it’s last case of COVID-19. The health secretary says “they are overwhelmed with the support they gave been given over the last decade” and will be reopening borders again as soon as they can. Man, aged 50, saves daughter from burning-”
COVID-19? But the corona virus outbreak is at its peak now, it hasn’t been cured by any country… Has someone installed an Alexa and told it to just spout pure shite at me?
“And Northern Ireland is beginning negotiations about the one child policy. SIVIS to report more later.”
Do Ireland have a one child policy? I haven't spoken to Aunt Alice over in Belfast for ages to be fair, but surely this is something I would know. I’m not that oblivious to world events and politics, am I?
“Jessica. You have no unread articles from SIVIS news. Would you like your social media messages?”
My head, supported by my hand, starts throbbing and my heart is pounding. Did the voice say a decade of covid-19? I swear it has only been a few months. Whatever this AI bullshit that has been put in- and what is it talking about? Is this why my phone isn't loading? I don’t get it.
“Er, yeah- yes please?”
“Two direct messages from Clara.” The thumping in my chest stops to skip a beat. Clara was on the phone to me last night, is she upset that I didn’t pick up? Surely she knows better than to think I would respond. My stomach drops as her voice echoes around the bathroom.
“Jessica, hi, it’s me… you know that. Still getting used to this, sorry. I just wanted to say that I’m so sorry to hear about Simon. I hope you’re coping okay- well, as best as you can be- and if you need anything, you know where I am- only a few hours away! And well… I guess that’s all, I hope you’re alright.”
“Also, I know we haven’t spoken in… well, years obviously, but I’ll be coming to London for the memorial service and I thought maybe we could...catch up or something while I’m over, maybe? I know… I know why you haven't responded to me, but you won’t hear from me again if you don’t… want to. Anyway… bye.”
My breathing accelerates and the pit in my stomach rises. I gag.