The sticky overwhelming night bears down on me making sleep all but impossible.
The dog shifts from place to place, the floor, the bed, downstairs, the bed, the floor, always picking her way around the cool mat, the one place she might find some peace.
I consider curling up on it myself.
A tall broad American with perfect teeth that I used to work for floats into my mind,
“If you always do what you always did you always get what you always got,” he used to say.
Like anyone who speaks continually in phrases, his words fell full of emptiness, despite the logic lurking underneath.
But some things feel unchangeable, however much you tinker away at the edges.
I get out of bed to fiddle with the angles of the blinds like the air vents in a car, trying desperately to funnel whatever breeze there is into my face.
Feeling a hint of cool I climb back into bed to discover that the street lamp from across the road is now shining straight into my eyes.
Resigned to wakefulness I lie on my back and stare up into the thick darkness.
How futile it is to try and change a world that will not be changed and to ignore the only option left, to change yourself.
Several times this week I have found myself working with people who are unhappy because someone else won’t change.
Couples who complain about each other, refusing to alter their position until their partner moves first.
It hasn’t happened yet but I fully expect that one day someone, almost certainly a man, will tell me, “She started it,” like a bickering sibling, and I won’t be able to stop myself from laughing.
I once told a man that he might want to stop making everything about him and try showing the love he professed feeling for a wife who had tired of his indifference and begun to freeze him out.
“Why should I?” He asked me.
I may as well have been wrestling a sweltering summer’s night.
Having now opened all the windows as wide as I can at the back of the house, including the one in the bathroom, leaving the door open exposing me to the dripping tap, I am back in bed, not much better off than before.
The dog gets into her bed, an option she hasn’t yet tried. After a few minutes, I hear her sigh and her breathing settles.
I decide to stop resisting too and, remarkably, sleep eventually comes.
In the morning I look disparagingly at the plastic bright blue cool mat but, instead of patting it and making encouraging noises to coax the hot dog onto it for the umpteenth time, I decide to lay a thin cotton sheet on top to make it more inviting.
When I look back from the kitchen a few minutes later, the dog is lying happily on the mat, fast asleep.