James Michie

Me and her outside

Me and her outside (2006)

I found myself outside a building like a leisure centre at night, the double doors in the entrance were open and there was an extremely bright light inside. It looked like the part of Rushcliffe school to the left of the leisure centre. I looked around, and everywhere else was deserted, so I walked in. I could gradually make out shapes as I walked along the corridor, it was a swimming pool, there were people bustling about, nobody was laughing or shouting, though. The corridor opened out in to the swimming pool hall, and there was a reception desk immediately on the right. The receptionist was talking to someone else, so I waited to talk to him. He finished talking to them, and then handed me a key and pointed to a lift. I got in the lift, went upstairs, and was in a hotel. The corridors were narrow and there was the sound of a television game show somewhere in the distance. I walked along the corridors looking for my room, then I saw a toilet at the end of the corridor and realised I needed to go. As I reached the entrance to the toilets I heard the television blaring to my right, and looked down a corridor to see a room full of people eating. There was a little television on a shelf on the wall, and everyone was eating thin soup, there was roll next to their bowls. There was no expression on anyone’s face, nobody was talking, they were just eating their soup spoon by spoon. One of the people was staring at me. I had a memory of having eaten somewhere else before – a large hall? – and thought Oh, that’s where I’ll be eating from now on, then.

I walked straight ahead in to the toilets. There was no door on the toilets so you could see straight in. There were a few stalls at the left, urinals straight ahead, and a sink with a mirror to the right, everything was crammed in to a relatively small room. I was carrying a big bundle of something on my back, a rucksack maybe. I walked ahead to the urinals and around to the ones at the back (there was a 4ft wooden wall with urinals either side) but there wasn’t enough room – there was only 6 inches between the urinals and the wall. I walked back to the stalls and sat down. There were no doors on the stalls. I finished up and washed my hands in front of the mirror, but I didn’t look in to it.

I walked back down the corridors to find my room. The receptionist, or someone very like him – thin with black greasy hair – was at a reception up there, just an opening in the wall surrounded by people waiting. He said something to me about a frog. I found my room and closed the door and sat on the bed. The room was like a prison cell, just a small room big enough for a single squeaky bed with a thin mattress. My head started shaking and I started turning in to a frog. I knew I was about to turn in to a frog, but I didn’t know how I was going to end up looking – I thought to myself Oh, I’m turning in to a frog aren’t I. I was watching myself from across the room sat on the bed with my head shaking and gradually becoming a green blur. It stopped suddenly, and my head was smooth and green and featureless except for two black beady eyes and a lipless mouth.

I wanted to go home and see my wife, and it was around this point that I realised I was dead, and in the afterlife.

Somehow I managed to get out and visit her for a short while – she was living in a terraced house putting out the washing while two children played in the garden. I saw her for a short while, I’m not sure if she could see me – I was still a frog man – and then I had to go back. I realised that the only way I was going to be able to see her any more was to be a frog.

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