He replaces the magazine on the bedside cabinet and slowly lets his fingers throw the switch on the lamp. The room sinks into Icelandic summer darkness – a washed-out colourless light. Lying on his side he curls his legs up under him, squeezes his eyes shut and tries to sleep.
An hour later, he turns in the bed, tugging at the covers, desperately counting sheep, willing himself sleep. He tries to empty his mind of the thoughts and associations pressing on his mind. Every time he is close to succeeding a nagging preoccupation brings the awfulness of the days events crashing headlong into his thoughts.
Ben listens. The sounds of silence at the dead of night. A clock ticks from a shelf above his head. In the stillness of the hour, each second counted out echoes in his mind like footsteps on a wooden floor. Hot water pipes gurgle and clatter from within walls. The sound of traffic, or voices across the street, he can hear as if he was lying in the street itself. He dives his head into the pillow praying for some sleep to take away his thoughts.
At five-thirteen in the morning, Ben swings himself out his bed, throwing on the light. He has no recollection of managing even half an hour of sleep. Equally, he can’t believe that the hours that have passed, have passed. At any rate, he is fully awake now, and he knows that sleep is beyond him now. Better to pull on his jeans, slip on a thick woollen Icelandic jumper under his fleece and go for a walk. And so, ten minutes later, he finds himself on the doorstep and gently pulling the door closed behind him. Where to – he wonders?