Packing suitcases, Pain digs its claws into my shoulder and shoves two fingers in my ear.
“Going on holiday,” I say, trying to flick it off me.
“Oh yes!” Pain punches the air and punches me too for good measure. “I love a holiday!”
“You’re not coming.”
“You don’t have a passport.”
“Don’t need one. There’s no law that says Pain has to have its own passport or identity. It steals other peoples. I can travel on your passport, in fact if you look carefully at your photo you will see me etched into your eyes.”
I make a mental note to write a stiff letter to the relevant authorities on my return. I stuff a small arsenal of pain relief into my hand baggage, hoping it won’t break the weight limit.
“Hah! Come off it, it’s a holiday, “Pain snorts. “A long drive to the airport, lugging heavy bags about, a couple of hours cramped up in a metal tube – if I’m lucky there’ll be turbulence so you can’t get up to stretch – seven nights on a dodgy sofa bed, twisting to get suncream on your back, and bending to wash the sand off your feet in the bidet... It’s Pain Heaven. I will be there.”
I check Easyjet’s website but Pain is not amongst the list of items you can’t take on a plane.
Pain whinges all the way to the airport. “Are we nearly there yet?”
I think I give Pain the slip at Check-in as it doesn’t show up past Security. I spot its miserable friend Migraine scurrying across the departure lounge in my direction – “Yoo-hoo!” it yells, lobbing dizziness in my direction. But I just put my sunglasses on so it can’t recognise me amongst the crowds and it wanders off, bored.
Pain must get in someone else’s luggage and accidentally fly to the other side of the world. It doesn’t show up all holiday. Even the mosquito bites don’t hurt. Pain’s annual leave allowance must be better than mine as I’m back at work and it’s still absent. But then again, it’s self-employed and doesn’t play by anyone else’s rules.
For 12 days I bask in the novelty of being a normal person. Each evening I go to bed and feel so very lucky that another day has passed without You-know-who turning up. I wonder a little about why it’s gone – I’ve had plenty of holidays where it’s hitched a ride and been a nightmare, and this holiday is no different in terms of activity levels and opportunities for relaxation. I decide it’s a waste of time analysing it all and just enjoy it instead.
Pain turns up eventually, a bit jet-lagged, and snores from deep within my neck. It’s the physio who awakens the devil properly, and it’s like everyone else that doesn’t want to be back at work after a nice break – really grumpy and unhelpful. It hasn’t even brought me back a straw donkey or some dangerous local liquor as a present. It says it doesn’t need to because it can induce nausea without the need for alcohol. If that’s not enough, Migraine is squatting inside my brain again and is being rather vague about how long it might stay.
The physio hints that we’re coming to the end of the road with the treatment, and Pain claps its little hands together quite spitefully.
You know that feeling when you walk back in to your house or office or school after some time off ? It’s like I’ve never been away at all, and I just need to get on with it all again.