by, Melissa R. Mendelson
Sleep refused to come. Instead, the dark settled at my side, calling to all my attention, and I had no choice but to look into the abyss. The moon failed to break the shadow, but splinters of light slipped beneath the shade. The night was everlasting, and time was no more. And sleep still refused to take me away.
The mattress pressed into my back. During my days in college, I did not mind a hard bed, but now my body moaned, complaining and breaking the silence. I was getting old, but I told myself that age was just a number. Age is in the mind, and if we let our bodies break, then we are old. But if we fight to stay young, then we are young, but this mattress is still too damn hard. And I cannot find sleep tonight.
My cat gave up. She jumped off the bed and skittered below. Her yellow eyes met my stare. She was annoyed, angry that I kept moving when she was comfortable, ready for bed. Well, that was too damn bad. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to curl up into a ball and shut my eyes, and that would be the end of today. But instead, the red numbers on the alarm clock merely stated that it was now past two a.m.
My heart was racing. What if I was having a heart attack? How would I know? Was it the cold hand of death keeping me awake? If I sleep, will my soul be taken? Was that the end of me? All I had to do was shut my eyes and listen to the thud. My heart was crying, begging for love, but love did not live here. And I stopped looking, and if I were to go now, disappear in dark, would I miss it? Would I miss that passionate kiss, a warm embrace, and another heart to take me home? I would, so maybe I should not sleep. And my heart races on.
Three a.m. Sleep still remained out of reach, but darkness comforted me. The ordinary life peeled away like layers of an onion, but what existed within? Was I living the dream? Was I still chasing it, trying to be alive, or did I give up? Was this my life now, these four walls? Would the sum of all I am be nothing but a whisper, a spider web left hanging in the corner of the room? 3:05 a.m. Time is passing me by.
Another year is about to die. I can’t say that I’m sad to see it go, but I know I have taken a step further. I have more now than I once imagined, and the noose of the cold, hard world is no longer choking me. I can breathe, but I still feel that I am wasting away. I am disappearing, and the night is taking me. And I can’t go. This can’t be my last moment, my last year. A new beginning awaits, another clean slate, and if only I could sleep, my mind would be clear. But it is in turmoil, boiling with worry and fear, my two worst adversaries, and I have to remember to relinquish anger. Do not go mad into this good night.
My eyes are heavy. Has sleep come to put me to peace? Will the darkness let go? A cold wind is whipping the glass outside, but my mind need not be concerned with what waits tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day, snared in the same routine, and I must break it. But will I ever keep that promise? Will I finally erase the girl I once was and trust myself to sketch who I am to become? Before I could answer, I am gone, falling deep into night, and time is no more. And I am nothing but a dream.