It starts out almost imperceptible. A soft, steady throb that grows, a pulse that sounds like a beat against various lengths of plastic tube. The sound stirs me, makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, compels me from slumber to rise from my bed, shuffle across the room, and make it stop.
Because of its gentle beginning, Lori doesn't often hear it. She sleeps more soundly than I. Though I can awake at the slightest of sounds, my reaction comes quickly. Even in some of my deepest slumbers, I can get to the Off button in time. It's only in my most sleep-deprived state that I don't reach the alarm in time.
And then it gets noisy.
On the mornings where I get up early, at 5:25, I do everything I can to be as silent as possible. For my alarm, I use an app that plays music from my iPhone, which is docked in a charger that has speakers. The docker itself is a clock radio, but neither the built-in beep nor the radio can provide a calming sound.
Because I generally awake easily, it's best to play something soft, and so, on those early mornings, I awake to the introduction to The Cranberries' song, appropriately entitled Wake Up and Smell the Coffee.
From the moment the song begins, I have approximately one minute and 20 seconds to awake, get out of bed, and walk over to the table where our clock radio/docker sits and turn off the alarm, but the song is almost undetectable for the first 10 seconds or so: it is that quiet. The song, during that time, is almost haunting. And since I started using this song, when I'm listening to my music at work, if this song comes up, I have to skip it because it freaks me out.
If I don't get to the alarm in the first 1:20, I am met with a bold, loud guitar and a pounding percussion that make me literally leap from the bed.
Lori, for the most part, doesn't budge.
Lately, however, my mind has begun to anticipate this alarm, and for the past couple of weeks, I awake with the haunting throb in my head. So convinced am I that my alarm is going off that I bolt upright in my bed, rub my eyes, and focus on the clock display, only to find that I've awakened anywhere from a half hour to an hour, or more, before the alarm is meant to sound.
So convinced, am I, that the alarm is going off, that the hair at the back of my neck stands up. I hear this song playing in my head every morning, whether I have my alarm set for 5:25 or 6:30. And it is now starting to cause me anxiety.
I've never been a morning person. I don't like getting out of bed early. I don't like talking to anybody until I've had a shower or a coffee: preferably, the latter. Often, the former. Though I don't enjoy being up so early, I do it. For work. If I have to be somewhere early.
If I don't have to be anywhere, I resist getting out of bed. But now that Wake Up and Smell the Coffee comes to my head every morning, sleeping in is only a dream.
It's the song that comes to my head at ungodly hours. It's the alarm that haunts me.