It's 2.45 am and I know I'm tired. But I can't go to bed. I just can't. Not tonight.
It's not unusual for me to up at this time of night; I've never been a morning person, and I've always enjoyed the peace and quiet of the wee, small hours. I remember writing essays at university at 4 am, I remember lying in bed listening to France Inter late, late at night when I was a student in Lyon. When the girls were very small, I had to work at night because it was pretty much impossible to get much done during the day.
Also, I'm not an insomniac. I have been, back in Lyon for example, when I just couldn't sleep, tossing and turning, night after night, until I'd get up before dawn and go and watch the sun rise from the steps of the Palais de Justice. But not now. Once I actually get myself to bed, I'm pretty much sure of falling asleep within a few minutes.
But tonight? I don't know.
You see, I had a dream last night. A bad dream. Probably the worst dream I've ever had in my entire life. A nightmare so bone-chilling that even thinking about it sends a shiver down my spine.
I've had nightmares before, we all have. Dreams that seem so real and that are so scary that you wake up breathless, in a cold sweat.
But this one was different. I don't remember the details - where, when, how - just the last few seconds before I shot awake, trembling and terrified.
I dreamt that I went into our bathroom and my beautiful girl, C, was lying in the bath, perfectly still, perfectly under the water. Lifeless. I dreamt I put my hands into the warm water and lifted her up, knowing full well that it was too late.
My hands are shaking as I type. It was so real. I could feel her damp skin, the coolness of it. I could see her long, blond hair floating out around her shoulders. Her lips were blue and her eyes were closed. She looked like she was sleeping. But I knew she wasn't.
Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.
I don't really believe in premonitions, and she was perfectly fine all day (though she may have wondered why I kept hugging her so tight today...), but this dream has shaken me to my core. I feel sick. I'm trembling.
And now, I'm scared to go to sleep. Scared to have another dream like that.
My two sweet girls are the most important things in my life, the one true success in my life. I can't bear the thought of losing them.
I can barely keep my eyes open I'm so tired, and I'm going to be a wreck tomorrow, teaching all morning, working all afternoon. But I can't go to bed. I just can't.