She is woken before her alarm by an overzealous thump of her heart. Sweat pools—in the divot above her sternum, in her bellybutton, in the depression between her breasts. It’s still dark. Her fingers find her phone on the bedside table. She squints, puts on her glasses. It takes a while for her eyes to focus on the cool white rectangle in her palm. She turned 40 last year and she knows she should be bracing herself for such changes—a slow stiffening of everything, right down to the tiny lenses in her eyes. She remembers a quote from Patrick White about getting old and mislaying bifocals. On the notes app on her phone she types, ‘Buy some books by Patrick White.’ As a second thought, on the line below she adds, ‘Make appointment with optometrist.’
Annabelle closes the app, flicks to Twitter, clicks on the news tab. The death toll from the coronavirus has gone up again. The Democrats are calling for John Bolton to testify in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. Someone has posted a photo of the barbed-wire centrepieces at a launch party for the new it novel of 2020, American Dirt. Annabelle sighs and buries her phone in the sheets. It’s a melodramatic sigh but beside her on the bed, Angus doesn’t stir. In the dark, she closes her eyes and waits for this wave of melancholic revulsion to pass.
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