I don’t remember waking up, going from the nothingness of sleep to being aware. The smoke must have slipped silently up my nostrils into my dreams until I was dreaming of being in a room full of smoke and then I was sitting up soon to be dreaming of just being. My trembling fingers fumbled around the metal neck of the table lamp, trying to find the protrusion of the switch but when I did, of course it wasn’t going to work. There was no beam of light under the living room door and I wasn’t aware of any sounds; my head was ringing from coughing and the thickness of smoke which had caught in the back of my throat making me gag. I pulled the thick blanket that had been covering me over my nose and mouth whilst I searched my trouser pockets for a handkerchief. I was frustrated by my clumsiness; it was a simple task, especially in comparison to what I suspected may lie ahead. I found the handkerchief and used it to replace the blanket. I slipped down onto the rug and my stomach. As I slithered slug-like across the floor in a diagonal direction, I hit a solid wall of smoke. I buried my face in the carpet but it only offered the alternative of nothing, no air and I wondered for a moment if I should just keep my face there. My eyes stung as though hot salt had been poured into them; fear kept them stretched open, trying to see beyond the blackness but they were useless .
And then I don’t remember going to sleep. I remember that in hospital you wouldn’t answer the questions my throat and blackened lips couldn’t speak. What you didn’t say was written all over your face.