I lay in bed, caught between sleep and waking, but feeling a peculiar tiredness I’d compare to the lassitude that comes from a sedative.

It’s my first bout with Covid – I thought I was going to be invulnerable from it. But waking up with an overwhelming lethargy, I bought a test on the way to work, took it into my makeshift office, and was surprised to see it come up positive.

Four years ago, this might’ve terrified me – at the very least, I would’ve worried myself into what might happen. That’s always been my worst enemy: my imagination.

But now I only feel disappointment that I’ve tested positive. Otherwise, there’s no fear, no dread, no attachment to it at all. Either I’ll be fine or I won’t. It’s the in-between that would irk me.

By the time I walk home, I’m exhausted and decide to get back into bed. Unfortunately, it’s also the time the body corporate sends somebody to mow the lawns. He works busily outside probably no more than ten-fifteen feet away. Afterward, he clears up with a leaf blower, an invention I’ve never understood. You might as well sell the wind in a box.

One he’s finally done, I drift in and out of a light sleep, the only real discomfit coming from the chill all over my skin, although at least that makes snuggling into the warmth of bed even more enticing.

When I finally get up again some four hours later, I can’t shake the tiredness, but don’t want to go back to bed. My back’s tightened from laying on it so long – one of the pitfalls of sleep apnea: when wearing the mask, you really have to stay on your back, or you tangle yourself up in the tubing, or if you flip onto your side you dislodge the mask. So I have to remain on my back. By the time I wake, it’s grown tight. This excess sleeping has really put a strain on it.

Grabbing a blanket my best friend gave me as a gift when I moved into this flat, I sit on the recliner and extend the footrest. I let the TV run through free-to-air programming and continue to drift in and out of sleep. There’s no pain, which is a pleasant surprise.

The next day, the worst of the tiredness is gone, although I feel low on energy. The day after is the same, but I begin to cough – it’s not a bad cough. I had a cold several months ago where the cough was much, much, much worse, and I was venting all sorts of black gunk from my lungs.

But the pains in my scalp, just above each temple, are excruciating each time I do cough. I don’t know what’s up there that’s getting annoyed. Maybe that section is sensitized because of the coughing from the previous virus, but now I dread the coughs – they’re sporadic, and they’re hardly inexorable or racking when they do occur, but they reinforce those pains until they’re scarred into my head, and the pain remains with me even when I’m not coughing.

They remind me of the pain I experienced in my right foot just after I became regularly ambulatory again – I could do short distances, but stay on my right foot longer, and it’d grow tender until I could imagine it’d been flayed and my naked muscle was exposed and throbbing the way injured limbs do in cartoons.

It becomes demoralizing, in its way, reminding me not specifically of all the different pains I’ve experienced in my life, but the emotional lows that came with them and, now, they resound through the anticipation of coughing with a dreadful chorus.

There’s something that grueling pain reminds me of, something darker that’s so far removed from healing and health that, in my deepening pensiveness, makes me think of mortality, and finality, and is hard to shake.

I think of the people I’ve lost. My best friend Blaise, a couple of years ago, although I still carry that grief profoundly every day, as well as the regrets of things unsaid and unresolved; my father, earlier in the year, and the belief that he might’ve died with no real pride in what I’ve done; and some idealistic part of me that used to look at the future with passion and enthusiasm and naivete.

Right now I feel closer to them – not emotionally, as this isn’t meant to be metaphoric, but closer to them geographically, or maybe even metaphysically, like Im sitting just outside the portal that could lead to them. Im not that ill that I should consider myself close to death. As far as illnesses go, the pains in my temples aside (and the Tinuitis has risen in volume until the top half of my head seems to be vibrating), this has rated pretty tame. But they just feel that close.

When I wake Saturday, and the cough’s gone, it comes with a tremendous relief.

But I know my brain’s been ticking more than ever in places it shouldn’t.

And some part of me doesn’t mind.

Some part makes me think it’s where I belong.