I am not awake, in these chill, dark hours, for catharsis. I am here because I was robbed of sleep and need, simply, to pass the hours until it is returned to me.
I am meant to be asleep. I could not see the stairs as I descended, but the cats could. They ran before me, sure-footed in the darkness, anticipating some unusual midnight lark involving milk or an extra trip outside. They were delighted, bright-eyed and anticipating only good. They love me, in their way, and for some reason this brings a hot sting to my eyes. Their gentle, inquisitive faces seem ridiculously poignant.
This would be a good time to be addicted to something. I consider ice cream, but don’t have the heart for something so bright and cold and demanding. I want nothing that crunches, nothing that requires effort, nothing that is any texture, temperature or flavor other than that of deepest peace and comfort.
Real insomniacs have sleeping pills, I think; I am merely a false, situational and temporary creature of the night. I will not have a glass of wine because it will ruin me for the coming day, and I can think of nothing else that might help. I am substance less and insubstantial.
I tried to read, tried for more than an hour with the heavy book propped on my chest and the same page open for the entire time. I read a sentence, read a word, lost my place, forgot who was speaking, and let my eyes slide into space and my mind go where it wanted to go.
It would not stick, the reading, because I was thinking about other things, sharp, pointed things not likely to become softer because I wanted to read about how Sherlock Holmes returned from the dead after three years’ time, astonishing Watson so much that the good doctor actually fainted.
Television, usually the most successful opiate, failed me as well. A show about people trapping roaches was too disgusting, infomercials too perky and banal, old movies too sad. Like the cats, the beautiful, black and white faces, highly arched brows and pomaded swoops of hair set off some sympathetic vibration in me that would, I knew, lead to tears, and snot and bloodshot eyes.
I am not awake, in these chill, dark hours, for catharsis. I am here because I was robbed of sleep and need, simply, to pass the hours until it is returned to me. It’s really very simple, regarded thus.
I fuss with a seed packet mysteriously lodged under a corner of my computer, and manage to flip it onto the floor. As I try to pick the worst of the mess from between the floor planks I look at a nail, which reminds me for some reason of roofing nails, which reminds me of a poem I used to love:
It’s been so long
speaking to people
who think it all
Stupidity in their eyes
it’s been so long
so far from the truth
so far from a roof
to talk to
or a hand to touch
or anything to really love
it’s been so long
talking to myself
in the night
listening to a music
that is me.
~ Victor Cruz
I only cry a little, maybe because of the girl who used to read that poem to herself as if clinging to it would save her very life. Perhaps it did. I am, after all, still alive and gazing fixedly at my navel.
I am not alone, not at all. I am just hurt, and anxious and isolated by the night. Tomorrow there will be people, obligations, and reminders that I am loved, lucky, and good. Tonight, I will talk to myself, and perhaps I will be kind. I will sit among the cats, try to mute the extraneous noise of worry, loss and shame, and listen to the music that is me.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise