sleep is putting up a fight lately. we’ve always had something of a contentious relationship, but lately, any semblance of control over the process has eluded me. night after night, battle-weary, i sink into bed and try – try to clear my mind, try to breathe evenly and deeply, try to entice the sleep my bones and muscles and eyelids want so badly. but it keeps skittering away from me, like a fly around a flyswatter, or dust in a draft.
and i wonder what it is. what is this uneasiness that keeps me shifting from my left side to my right, from my right side to my stomach, from my stomach to my back with hands tucked resignedly behind my head? i move in and out of darkened apartment rooms, chilled by deep shadows and imagined movements. through the bedroom window, i watch the tops of the trees sway across the street. i pick, absentmindedly, at scars.
my brain is humming. the thoughts are connected yet not, like a stream of broken stones. where is south station again? i don’t want an apartment with carpet. we should give those books to the Women & Children booksale. i’d like another tattoo. if there was a fire, how would we ever get out? i'd like to go to Morocco. what was that noise? i can’t find any jobs. no really, what was that noise? and running over (or maybe under) all this is an insistent tori amos chorus, held over from the commute home.
why do we
from the living room, my cat lets out a strangled sound. this has become a bizarre little nighttime routine for us over the last few evenings – i’ve started to expect it. she cries out in a few short bursts and a few longer, vacant meows, and then I see her shadow move near the bedroom door.
tschook, tschook i sound out with my tongue against my teeth, softly. “come here,” i whisper, hoping not to wake the only sleeping one in the apartment. but he just shifts slightly and is still again. the cat comes stealthily and tentatively along the side of the bed, where i reach over and pat her head. she looks at me, the nightstand, the foot of the bed. she jumps up, stands alongside my stomach for a few reassuring pats.
“i know, sweetie. i know.”
she settles in at my feet.
and i wonder what it is. i can feel the anxiety in my shoulders, in the small of my back as i stretch sideways. i roll and twist, trying to release the tension. i stare at the slight swing of a tree branch, cast in negative against the wall twelve inches from my face. i stay awake, because somewhere in all this night and darkness and stillness, there must be some kind of answer just about to swim up in front of me. there must be, right? there must be some kind of clue tucked into the minute beyond this one, or the one beyond that – a way to fill the hollow.