A night time (90 days to go…)

by Max Akroyd

It’s just before midnight. Everybody in this house is sleeping apart from me.

I’m listening to that strange east wind scouring the darkness. When we first arrived here the space was so big it felt like we were simply cast adrift. Even now, at night, the hinterland of the farm seems vast in my imagination. I try and compress it within the bounds of my mind’s eye but in the gloom it escapes my grasp. Instead I think of a remote, reverse world beyond the window teeming with night creatures, the boundaries of the daylight hours now porous, meaningless.

I fix on my farm animals and wonder what their experience of night might be like. No doubt the pigs will be oblivious, snug like broad beans in their straw nests. An enviable kind of composite, snoring warmth. I’m not sure about the goats – they are a bit tense at the best of times and I fear the long night might be a bit of an ordeal for them.

Of all the birds, I’m absolutely certain about the nocturnal status of one of them. The oldest of the female ducks will be perched upon the apex of the old barn. By day, you’ll find her in the enclosure, hanging around the drinker with the other ducks. But without fail, around dusk, she’ll use those unclipped to wings to take flight and adopt her lonely position. Not for her the questionable ratio of safety in numbers. She forgoes the proximity of her kind when the fear fox is about, just to be certain of the new dawn.

She’s up there like a living sign. The duck and I will be awake a while yet.