Christmas eve morning I woke up in post-op, woozy with morphine. I get my best ideas on the morning liminal, that delicious time between sleep and wake. This was like an über version of that, and I couldn't quite tell the difference between consciousness and unconsciousness. I now know why some people become addicted to opiates, especially creative types, it was like drifting through the imaginations of my favourite artists. Sometimes I'd be in a clinical hospital room, all gloss white and steel, and then I'd turn my head and find I was in an orange wind tunnel with the heroine of one of my short stories and her frock collection.
A beautiful woman with a foreign accent came to visit me. She was wearing a white coat but it was unbuttoned and beneath was a black cocktail dress. Her diamonds glinted as she moved under the strip lights. She spoke and and cooled me with her hands. Then she was gone. Darkness.
Voices: Stevie, Bob and my brother appeared as if on a screenless TV that hadn't been properly tuned in . They pulled up chairs and spoke and I think I answered, but I was walking along a dark street in an unknown city as brightly lit trams carrying multiple Paris Hiltons raced past me. Light. Kerfuffle. Nurses with bright tones.
I was moved to the ward, bed and all, a different ward to the one I'd been in before the operation, but it looked the same. I worried I'd miss the old one. The boys sorted out all my stuff. I was more with it by now so I could direct them, but doing so exhausted me so we agreed they should go home and leave me to sleep, which I did.
I was woken up for the evening meal but couldn't eat it. I sat up though, and chatted to a nurse who checked my wound and various attachments. My entire torso throbbed with pain and I longed for the dark quiet of night. The same few Christmas pop tunes played over and over. My blood pressure and heart rate were taken hourly.
The lights were finally turned off at just after midnight, once I'd been checked over again and had the nippy little injection everyone has to have to thin the blood. Dark was bliss, I disappeared into it.
'Hell-oh!' a semi whisper.
I opened my eyes and looked up to see a ghostly Santa with wire rimmed spectacles peering over me: 'Hello,' he said.
'Hello,' I replied.
'Have you seen my fairy?' he gesticulated to the end of the bed where a large youth in a tutu with a wand stood. 'Hello,' said the youth.
'Hello,' I replied.
'We have a gift for you,' said Santa, pointing at a large parcel on my table.
'Oh, thank you,' I said.
He was gone. I looked at the time, it was 12.45.
I was woken at about tenish by a nurse doing what nurses do. 'Did you see Santa last night?'
I must have looked puzzled because she added, 'he left you a present, look.'
There on my table was a large, crisply wrapped parcel.