I sit bolt upright in bed. I am squished between John and Alula who has her legs thrown over my stomach in five year old abandon.
‘We are leaving!’ I announce scuttling like a crab across the bed and flicking on the strip light. John sits up sighing loudly. ‘What time is it?’
‘It’s midnight and we are leaving! I can no longer take that mosquito. The mosquito has won.’ There is no blood left in my body. I am anemic. I am hovering on the abyss of madness. One more zzzzzz in my ear and I will smother myself with my own pillow.
We are trialling a house. We have done this a few times – spending a night in a house we are thinking of renting. John wonders aloud whether we might start to be the house trialling con artists of Ubud…moving from villa to luxurious villa -every night a new place ‘trialling’ out potential homes none of which will ever mysteriously make the grade. It would certainly be cheaper than paying rent in this town where money grabbing Bule middle men keep hiking the prices to infinity.
It is only down the road from our current house this mosquito filled house. It has a pool though, whereas ours just has a paddling pool filled with stale rain water in which float dead geckos and bugs. This was the main attraction (the swimming pool that is). But when we first came to look around this swimming pool house, the sounds of pigs having their throats slit disturbed the serenity of the surrounding rice paddies, silencing the frogs.
Thinking it might just be on account of an upcoming ceremony that said pigs were being slaughtered I questioned the girl showing us around. ‘Babi?’ I asked, drawing my finger across my throat and making a stuck pig squealing noise and sticking out my tongue. ‘Ada Upacara hari ini?’ (Is there a ceremony today?)
She stared at me in wide-eyed confusion and shook her head as though she didn’t have a clue what I was asking. But she did.
‘I bet it’s a pig farm next door,’ I whispered to John.
But we’re back trialling the house anyway. So far no pig noises. But I don’t think they slaughter pigs at night so that means nothing. John and I go for a skinny dip in the pool (is that too much information?) but we didn’t have any swimmies with and it was dark.
We’ve just dared the bracing cold when the pig chorus starts up.
‘Pig farm!’ I splutter, ‘She WAS lying. I KNEW IT.’
‘Shall we go home?’ I ask.
‘We may as well stay’, John answers, ‘think of it like a little holiday.’
The same way as Clarice Starling thought of hanging out in an underground cell block with Hannibal Lecter was a little holiday.
We climb damp (we forgot towels too) into the bed with Alula. The pigs go to sleep. The mosquito starts up.
Half an hour later we are all piled into our bed at home. I squirrel under the covers, looking through the hazy mosquito netting listening to the croak of frogs and chirrup of crickets.
‘I love our house’, I say.