My eyes burn as I gaze up into the darkness, shades of gray looming overhead. It is difficult to understand, the polar opposites: serenity versus turmoil, that rule the night; how sometimes the breeze of the fan glides over you, sleepiness drowning out your thoughts, but not quite yet overtaking you, an asylum of comfort. But what about the nights the day cannot let alone? Dread or fear, anxiety crouching immobile in the pit of your stomach, horrifying scenarios worsening in your imagination. You try once more to think of nothing, to force you body to yield to the exhaustion hiding behind insomnia. Anxiety is ever more persistent than peaceful, silent slumber, isn't it? Contentment doesn't keep you up at night, wondering how things could ever be quite so blissful or questioning why such a wonderful thing could ever happen to you. Wouldn't that be lovely in a horribly miserable way?
Alas, I give up on the idea of sleep, my eyes far too sore to continue roving beneath my eyelids, though as always the hope of sleep continues, waiting patiently for that bus.
As soon as I am aware of my absolute wakefulness however, I realize there is nothing to do. Classical music has even lost its soothing effect, the somber shuffles and airy prancing drawing me further from the inattentiveness for any lengthy repose.
What now? What now, I continue to ask myself time and time again. This big empty bed is losing its lure as time goes on. During the day tiredness plagues me at my desk, staring at the computer screen, numbers and dashes and parentheses and the greater-than, less-than signs, or whatever they are called, but why, oh why does this fatigue not amount to sleep filled nights. Give me nightmares or random, pointless dreams to fill the hours, but not his wretched, vacant abyss, anything but this.
Three more hours, and it's only been ten minutes. I stretch in the darkness, throwing the covers off, my feeble attempt to fight the heat. I turn over and hug my pillow as if some secret lover. It never helps.
Perhaps it is because the kind of obliviousness sleep brings cannot be replicated or imitated by any man made product. No matter how soft the cotton, how silky smooth the fabric, what does indeed compare to the warmth and relaxation of those first waking moments? Toes curled and the head may swivel, the covers strewn about or securely holding me tight.
Ten minutes more. I cannot take this. Thinking of what it is I am not getting and wanting so desperately. Normally, I would whimper and pout childishly, but I am too tired. This restlessness has not been so consecutive before, allowing me the courtesy of a night off, but this…what is this?
This is torture, complete and utter torture! What could I have possibly done to be subject to my rambling thoughts in silence. You may find that peculiar, but it is when left to our own thoughts that we go peculiar. Thoughts of self worth lead to suicides and tyranny, thoughts of body lead to steroids and bulimia, mutilation. Thoughts in the silence can lead to madness, and I am quite certain I am nearly there, tottering on the brink, my insanity seeping down into the ground, changing the color of my mind's petals, making them as they should not be, wilted and discolored.
By no will of my own can I stop this, this madness. It speaks to me, telling me of its approach, but never giving me the exact date, the time, whether or not the preparations I've made will suffice.
I whimper now, burying my head into the pillow. The clocks having just told me of the five minutes that have past. The animal within me claws at the walls of my brain, instinct telling me to rest, reason warning me of how very little patience I will have in the morning, my grey matter already wary of the caffeine it will be forced to process tomorrow. And yet, here I am, slowly suffocating in a pillow, lying awake in bed.
Anger begins to simmer. Why am I not in complete control of my faculties, able to force myself into compliance? Apparently I am not the master of my own brain, and its will supercedes my own.
A growl. I flop onto my back, laying the pillow across me. As if this will bring more comfort.
I should see the doctor and rid myself of this ailment, a vicious disease mandating every aspect of my life as of now, but I know I won't. I should know myself better than this, should shoot down the impossibilities, or rather, the improbabilities before they spring up these false hopes. I know my principle of self reliance is far too strong for me to willingly intake a pill that may potentially cause an addiction, dependence. I despise dependence, a reliance on some other power than my own, a mind-set which leaves me to stress and added despair after my downfall, but at least, I always remind myself, the bitter resentment of another's failure does not equally bring me down.
I turn back onto my side. Twenty minutes have gone by, but too much time still remains.
Childhood wasn't like this. Sleep came easily before the burden of responsibility kicked in. Imagination may have made the clothes look to be monsters, the shadows demons waiting to reach out to me, but the day's exertion was more completely draining. The eagerness to stay up was up staged by the lull of a parent's voice. The bunnies were adorably illustrated on the page, the underwater world full of mystery and wonder, green eggs and ham all the more appetizing and appealing for tomorrow, and then tomorrow came, and none of the thoughts from the night before came along. You started fresh, anew, but not now. Never again. Everything carries on from one day to the next, to the next, to the next.
I smile. I remember the songs. My cassette player on the nightstand beside my bed; I anxiously waited for the tape to rewind. Everyday the same tape. I still don't know if I've ever managed to listen to the whole thing, but I'd know the opening song anywhere, the opening seconds of background music.
I'm playing them in my head now, closing my eyes to imagine leaves dancing in the wind. I remember days at the park, climbing my favorite tree, and days at the pool, my fingertips white and pruny. I remember the hardened calluses on my palms from the monkey bars and launching myself from the highest point on the swing's pendulum. I remember the feel of the sun on my back after hours spent in the pool, going back for a before bed swim. I remember my red burning eyes…going back under…the texture…of sand…smells…chlorine…flowers…grass…the soft breeze caresses my face now. I am lying in the water, looking up at the stars, bouncing gently in the small waves, weightless. I am warm. I am comfortable. I content. I am a child.
I am asleep.