A deluded awakening 

Not from that vicious old lady

Insects could be defeated through the miracle of science and chemistry, in spite of their overwhelming numbers, but I never succeeded in my six year campaign to resist the rhythms of an island inhabited by larks. 

I was a night person trapped in a dawn person’s world. The mismatch became apparent very early in our stay.

I experienced a sudden reunion with consciousness when Tomoko elbowed me in the ribs. I removed one earplug just in time to hear her mumble, “Doorbell.” 

And then I heard it for myself: an irritating ring like a school lunch bell reverberating down stone hallways from deep within the house. 

Somewhere in the tattered fragments of my mind I saw an image of the girl from Malta Post — the cute one with dark curly hair and aviator sunglasses — holding an armful of books. She usually showed up at 8am, but I was never awake.

I stumbled down the hallway, pulling on my pants as I went. The front door was half a block away from the bedroom: down a sort of tunnel, through the tiny kitchen, duck under a low door, and across the cavernous arched entry hall that bisected the front of the house. 

I got there slightly out of breath, with my heart thudding in my ears. 

When I unhooked the giant cast iron bar and opened the heavy wooden door, I squinted into early morning sunshine and saw an old lady with a baby’s pram filled with vegetables. 

She smiled at me like a horror movie jack o’lantern, with big round face and gaps for teeth. 

“You want squash?”

I mumbled and shook my head, still trying to understand just what the hell was happening to me. 

She said it again and pushed the giant gourd at my chest. I accepted it automatically, reached into my pocket, and gave her the coin she was demanding.

“You want cucumber…?” she asked next.


“You want carrots…?”


“What you want?”

I said, “I want you to go away, and never do this to me again.” 

And I quietly closed the door.

I set the squash on the kitchen table on my way back to the bedroom, and took a quick glance at the clock. It was 6:30am. 

An innocent night person trapped in a dawn person’s world

I assumed it had all been some kind of bizarre dream, but the squash was there when we reemerged later that morning. 

It had “€2” drawn on the side with black marker, and it regarded us accusingly from the centre of the table, castigating us for laziness without saying anything at all.

About the author

Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Add Comment


Sign up for my entertaining email newsletter and claim your FREE gift!

Recent Posts