I wake up before the alarm goes off; five am and it's properly dark outside. Downstairs, I push open the lounge door, hoping it hasn't started sticking again after yesterday's rain. The light switch is on the furthest wall and I mutter for the umpteenth time about the stupidity of whoever wired this house, as I grope my way across the room towards the kitchen. Martin the cat adds that extra level of challenge to my half-awake clumsiness as he weaves his way in and out around my ankles; he knows that, before I even reach for the kettle, my first job of the day will be to re-fill his bowl.
A few minutes later I'm on the sofa, fingers curled round the bright lime-green bowl of my favourite cup, drinking the first, the best, tea of the day. As I look at the window, the blackness outside throws back a reflection of the room, just as though someone had sneaked down in the night and placed all our furniture in the garden.
An early morning delivery van rushes by, heading towards the image of the mirror on the wall. For the tiniest moment I wait for the crash of glass when it hits, but of course it glides smoothly past and I smile as I look across at the real mirror on the other side of the room.
From the kitchen I hear the sound of the fridge-freezer. It came with the house, a tall white appliance, meant for a family bigger than ours, something we almost never fill. Every now and then it makes the strangest sound, half mechanical, half animal. I remember the first morning I lived here, listening to the strange growling noises, I was half intrigued, half afraid. Nowadays it seems much friendlier, a more familiar, less threatening sound, a bit like a mother cow calling its young. Perhaps it's wondering what happened to the milk, butter and cheese it used to hold.
I don't need to be up yet, I could stay in bed for another hour, but lately I've found myself wanting to snatch at time, more and more afraid to waste the minutes and hours. And right now, the day stretches out ahead of me, full of possibility, not yet chipped away by the things I'm supposed to do, the things I haven't done. I'll go and have a shower soon, head off for work and another day of choices, decisions and consequences, but just for a few minutes, as I sip at my tea and gaze out at the darkness, I'm at ease with the world. And myself.