i want to go to sleep but the whitewash of my head will not be quiet. i do what i have been told: i imagine my mind into a small white room, quiet and blank and empty-empty-empty. i will sit cross-legged in the middle of the white-painted world. i will breathe and not move and still i will not go to sleep.

i break the rules. i let my thoughts cout from their cage, i let them burst out of their dam. their colors flood the canvas, saturate the white nothing. they make the pictures of all i have known and imagined. curls of yellow sun, of blue tears, of lilac uncertainty, they unfurl themselves across the floor and up the walls. streaks of memory, all smooth and curved edges: flashes of imagination, sparking jagged and invading.

a movie screen has formed on my ceiling. in it, the days flicker jerkily backward. most of the moments are muted pastels, but some explode in roaring crimsons and azures. the chaos of my room is growing, feeding on music and books and myself, flying faster every moment. the things that are real, and ones i have imagined, are at odds with each other-- imagination and reality clashing. familiar faces collide with places i've never been.

the room has become too fast, too loud. i clutch at it and it is wilier than me, slipping out of reach. i claw at it and it is so much stronger, wrenching from my grip. i feel the tornado forming, stirring from the tiniest granule of rebellion, until it whas sucked all these things in- the colors and memory and wishes. it spits them back out. it has made them ugly, given them teeth and turned their eyes red.

panic slinks under my skin, grabbing at my heart and chilling my blood. white-empty-silent, i think. i breathe deeply and tell my fluttering nerves to be quiet. i can't tame what the room has become, what my thoughts have let themselves turn into. my mind is still a careening tangle of feeling; its creativity has turned into a sharp cynisism and a bitter taste on my tongue.

i reach for it, i swim through it, plucking at pieces. each one must be erased, smudged away, made docile. each memory turned meaningless, each thought called useless, each dream made fickle. each one i will slaughter, imprison, expel. moment by moment the colors dim, the sounds slip away. finally i have trapped everything. i have snuffed out the tornado; i have painted diligently with white.

white-empty-silent, i breathe, and i am calm now. i sit in my room, cross-legged, and do not stir. the walls and floor and roof and even myself, we are made of nothing.

i close my eyes but still i see it: the empty, the quiet, the stillness.

white, i breathe, white-white-whitewash.