The Fiction of Sleep.

I haven’t slept in four months.

I can tell that I am alive. My heart beats, my lungs empty and fill, my blood
pumps; but my eyes do not focus, my breaths are short and sharp. The simplest movements feel like a weighing task. My arm moves to the side, muscles burn and blood vigorously makes it’s way through a labyrinth of veins. Usually one cannot feel this, but to me it is pure pain. The world around me seems like a work of fiction; the noises I hear can’t be existent, the voice the stranger speaks with is blurred.

The fizzling of sleeping pills yet again tickles at my organs. I’ve been popping these for days. I’m constantly telling myself that this time, yes, this time it will work. That constant hope that I will finally achieve sleep. Yet in the back of my mind I know that the required hour will pass, and my eyelids will feel no heavier than before. It is not that I’m not tired, I feel the ache in my bones, the heaviness behind my eyes. Yet sleep will not come to me, that blatant shut-down of energy is unattainable and almost a mystery by now.

The sudden boom of liquid flowing unto porcelain meets my ears. My eyes focus on the mug before me. slowly trailing, my gaze goes to a tipped coffee pot, then to a pale lithe hand, finally falling upon the broken-looking waitress behind the bar.

“You look horrible,” her voice is melodic and almost soothing to my aching mind.
“I feel it.” my voice is strained as if I’d just downed a pack of cigarettes in one drag.

The conversation ended just as soon as it began, my sunken cheeks and paling skin couldn’t be exactly comforting. I come in here nightly. Every time I see my clock hit nine I finish what I’m doing and stroll down here, nothing like a warm environment to help conceal the cold extent of my life. This was my daily routine, I only went through with it in hopes that somehow the boredom it created would bring myself to finally give up and lay down. It hadn’t yet.

“You Should Get Some Sleep,” again the waitress.

“Yes I should,” the click of her chunky heels becomes apparent. Meaningless banter to try and bide her time and grow her tip. It won’t. She’ll continue her pointless conversation that I could care less about. I’ll leave her that same measly two dollar tip; It wasn’t even twenty percent, but it always seemed sufficient. The woman shot me a look of confusion as her own gaze flickered toward the clock, it struck 12:01.

I was a minute off schedule.

As expected, my lips smacked and I turned on the stool, allowing my fragile frame to lift itself, my rubber soles planting firmly on the tile floor. My bony hand smacked the change down on the counter, dragging away as I took my steps toward the door.

She whispered a ‘goodbye’.

Am I alive? I was so sure, but as I see myself now, through this mirror in my dim bathroom I cannot be correct. These sunken cheeks, these black bags beneath my eyes, this distant and unfamiliar gaze. I am not myself. From the corner of my eye I can see the flushed blue sheets on my bed. I yearn to feel my ear against that pillow. Success becoming me as my body shuts down slowly. This constant yearning exists within me, the apple in the garden of Eden.

The couch feels blank against my bare back. I feel my spine push into it’s fabric as I sit back. The television speaks, but I cannot hear it. My jaw hangs open just slightly, I’d be drooling if it wasn’t for the medication dehydrating my every aspect. The infomercial begs for my attention, yet even these flashing numbers and bright colors can’t keep my absent gaze.


The stark sound waves permeated the air around me, stinging sharply at my eardrums. I flinch. It takes me a moment before I can take in that my phone is ringing. I wait. If it rings more than five times it means that someone needs me.

Sixth ring.

I rise and head toward the manila object on the cheap wicker end table, the price tag still hanging off it’s leg, that will bother me for days. I let my index finger fall, pressing the ‘speaker phone’ button till it illuminated.

“Malcolm?” I recognize the voice immediately as my mother’s.

“I’m here.”
“you haven’t called me for days!” her voice shrill with discern, she says this strictly because she is obligated to do so, and we both know this.
“You haven’t called me for days.”
“You sound horrible,” my eyelids slowly slide closed.
“I feel it.”

the conversation becomes cookie-cutter as she begins to talk to me about my ‘good for nothing’ father and her struggle with weight-loss. I could care less if she keeled over right now. I haven’t seen the woman for years, yet she calls bi-nightly. Why? Self-Reassurance.

This conversation lasts a solid half hour, I say nothing but the occasional throaty mumble of approval or agreement. She babbles on almost incoherently at lightning speed, as if her life story needed to be told before the line disconnected. A faux ‘I love you’ is spoken from her before finally, that distant empty noise that follows the all-too familiar click. I am free.

My eyes un-focus as the remaining two hours before work are spent staring at my cheap baby blue kitchen table. It reminds me of my childhood. The dilapidated trailer my mother called home.I cannot get myself to remember every detail of my early years. Small positive snippets exist, yet in desperate time I can only imagine them as a figment of my imagination. I always had a knack for lying to myself.

The clock chimes. Duty Calls. My thin arms slip into the dull gray sleeves of my coat. I feel it’s heavy fabric on my weakening shoulders, the sheer density of it fighting against every muscle in my body. My eyes flutter as I slowly adjust the white cap on my dark unruly follicles. I adjust it’s back strap, bend the brim in my lithe fingers and nod. I do not look at my reflection. I only choose to pass it casually. I fear the detail.

The blanket of night seems to thicken as I press onward. The eighteen-wheels each gripping separately on the grooves of the road. The engine builds then quiets, builds then quiets, a never ending pattern that I have become more than adapted to. I hear nothing and everything at the same time. The buzz of the radio does not phase me until my subconscious focus shifts, taking in the occasional flicker of static. News.

The sudden alertness I usually felt did not come. The highway lines began to fade, their aberrant white colouring beginning to slowly mesh as my eyelids slid slowly closed. A miracle upon me.

Short-lived, for the both of us.


My eyes are open.

The fluorescent rectangles drift in and out of my vision before I can take complete notice of their detail. The soft feeling of a cushion is felt beneath my thin frame, I am lying flat.

A muffled voice attempts to speak, but my ears, much like my eyes, cannot focus. I feel the light trickle of liquid on the side of my face, the heaviness of it tickling each pore it slides over.

Finally the movement stops. The screech of wheels on tile floor reaches me. My brain clicks. These white walls…these strangers…the loudspeaker.

A hospital.

“Mr. Kelevron, looking good, you’re going to be just fine,” a gentle voice speaks. she’s standing on my right.

“I feel it.” I answer so rhythmically that I barely recognize the utterly incorrect context of my sentence. So used to looking horrible. These simple words heavy my heart, like a weight is pressed unto the center of my chest.

The feeling is fleeting.

The movement stops and I’m ushered onto a more formal hospital bed. Every bone aches as I feel my frame being lifted and released on the bed’s oddly rough appendages. I release an expletive beneath my breath as my teeth clench tightly together in my usual ritual to release the pain, it is yet to be successful.

The last sound I hear is the soft swish of the cotton nurse’s uniform swaying as the woman exits the room.

Silence becomes me.

My eyes do not close. The familiar sizzle of medication exists within the deep pit of my stomach. They are the desperate attempt to kill the pain I know I’m not supposed to be feeling. My arm raises so gingerly as I attempt to clutch at the atmosphere, my fingers do not clench.

Before realization can be had, my arm no longer touches the atmosphere. The air opens around me as my chest fills and empties clearly.

My eyes close heavily.

A smile comes to my face.

I can tell that I am not alive. My heart stopped, my lungs empty and cease to fill, my blood halts; my eyes flutter closed, my final breath is deep and final. The simplest movements no longer are a task. My arm refuses to move to the side, muscles stop burning and blood gives it’s final slide makes through a labyrinth of veins. I cannot feel this, it is pure pleasure. The world around me becomes a work of realism; the noises I hear are no longer existent, the voice the stranger speaks with is fading.

What I have craved for so longingly has become mine.

A deep, forever sleep.

The Fiction of Sleep.

Amber Kipp

Key West, United States

  • Artist

Artist's Description

The Story of an Insomniac and his all-too desperate attempt to find sleep.

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