A CASE OF INSOMNIA
Fiction by M Teresa Clayton
The night has come. Tiptoed in without a sound, he just looked up and there it was – blackness. Tonight, there would be no moon to give a hint of light to the surroundings beyond his bedroom window where he lay waiting to see if perhaps he could return to the other side… please.
No, it would be another night of tossing and turning and overthinking that would eventually drive him to madness again and again. This was becoming his life now.
The days were where he found his slumber and the nights his anguish. He would tell them all that he suffered from insomnia, but it was a lie. He slept fine during the light of day because his mind was too weak to spend another moment in the spotlight of faraway laughter, the mulling about of the neighbors as they visited over fences and helped each other out with project after project, the distant sound of music playing and kids enjoying an afternoon swim.
Not one more day could be endured of the immeasurable pain of loneliness and despair – the game of smiles, nods and “have a great day” resounding in his ears like fingernails on a blackboard; making his skin crawl.
What the hell is a great day? Define that, please… Is it being alive, then I’m having one I suppose, he would think to himself. No, being alive does not make the day great – it just makes the day.
He preferred sleeping during the hours when most people would be alive and having great days, so he wouldn’t have to really see what a great day looks like anymore – he knew.
A great day is filled with meaningful relationships where people come together to enjoy each other’s company and talk, sip tea, share lunches, talk about their wives and their children and their jobs… maybe play the nines – buddy up for a game, feel the sun on their faces and rejoice with a “It’s so good to be alive”.
He no longer saw his kids, had long lost his wife years ago to another man while he worked to make a living, so they could continue… towards what? Going where?
He had hated golf back then and most every other sport, never was ‘one of the guys’, preferred to spend his free time with his family though his family was always busy doing life.
It began to set in towards the end of their marriage – the unfocused and half-assed efforts at work that eventually got him fired. The long naps on the couch after mowing the lawn and having a light lunch. Waking up for dinner, then some television that only served to become background noise to his constant thoughts of ending it all, then another nap.
She would summon him to bed but then that stopped too once she realized that he would not sleep at night – the tossing and turning would just keep her awake and she had a life to wake up to – and it did not include him.
He sat there on the couch, thumbing through channels of religious rhetoric, home buying networks, infomercials that were an hour-long, and reruns of old black and whites he’d seen a hundred times.
So, he would eventually turn the television off and sit there in the darkness, his mind racing with thought after thought and nothing truly worth thinking about.
She left in the fall of that year when the nights would be so much longer.
The internet provided some comfort as other insomniacs complained about the lack of sleep and the frustration of not being able to find rest… were they any different than he? Were they just making up excuses for a life not worth being present for in the light of day?
Night people are different – they are depressed, anxious, unhappy, unfulfilled, lifeless souls – or they were people with various illnesses; mental and physical.
Didn’t make any difference to him, he had found some respite in being among people like himself. All these people were lost, out of rhythm with the rest of the world, out of sorts, out of their minds, out there where no one really knows them, and no one really knew him.
There were many nights when he thought about getting the gun out of the drawer, inserting a bullet (just one) and inserting the cold hard end of it into his mouth. He would make a game of it, catch a bit of a thrill, and try to revive some of that excitement, that verve he lacked.
Tonight, he would begin the game and the excitement mounted unexpectedly as he opened the drawer, took out his twenty-two, inserted a hollow tip into the chamber and spun it around.
Slowly, his hand shaking, he inserted the gun into his mouth and took a deep breath. He pulled the trigger – click – nothing.
Tonight, he would live and think about how close he came to be putting an end to it all. The thrill shook him to his core and produced a long-forgotten feeling between his legs – it felt good.
He decided to take advantage of this opportunity and pleasured himself for the first time in what seemed like a lifetime ago.
The next day came and went in a blur and again that evening he picked up his gun and inserted it into his mouth – click – one more night to live and one more night of incredible orgasm at his own hand.
And the same continued night after night for four nights. On the fifth night, he took the gun and inserted it into his mouth, pulled the trigger and felt the pleasure of his last orgasm as the bullet made its way into his brain and out the other side.
They found him several weeks later lying in his own dried up blood and cum – the stench of his rotting body had alerted the neighbor who reported a foul odor emanating from his house. The neighbors had all gathered ‘round to try to find the source when one thought perhaps they should call someone. They called his ex-wife… who, along with the children made the gruesome discovery.
Now his ex-wife takes sleeping meds to get to sleep at night and block out the horror of that reality and, so she can function normally, or as near normal as possible, day after day.
One of the kids is slowly losing her mind and no one is even noticing – she keeps smiling and nodding and offering “have a good day” to everyone.
The other child, he is sleeping during the day to escape the horror of that moment of discovery, now all too aware of how loud the sun is, how hard it is to escape the light of day and hide his feelings from prying questions… he gets up, goes to school, comes home and takes a nap until dinner is ready, eats around the peas on the plate despite his mother’s insistence that he eat his vegetables, then returns to his room where he turns on the television and listens to the noise without paying any attention… as he returns to another late nap.
Everyone goes to bed and now he is awake and alone. The freedom to not be seen in the dark, no questions, no pretenses, just the night. He turns on the computer and catches up with his other insomniac buddies online. They will never know his reality. They will never ask him the questions that need to be answered. They will never see him cry or tear at his hair or cut himself just to feel alive!
Cutting himself, yes, that feels good and always turns him on in some perverse yet totally acceptable way. Cut, cut deep, watch the blood flow over his hand and onto his dick as he jerks off to completion and feels absolutely alive!
Each night the cuts get longer and deeper and a little closer to where people might be able to see them now. He had managed for months to keep his cuts high enough that his shirt sleeve would hide the wounds but now he was needing more to feel good, to enjoy the moment of pleasure – just one small moment in his hell where he could feel alive and find release.
Tonight, he took the Exacto knife and placed a new blade into it – closed it tight with an extra twist – placed it at the base of his thumb and pushed it in as deep as it would go. Then he watched himself pull the embedded blade up to the blue line that pulsed excitedly at his wrist – he was alive and extremely turned on by the experience as he continued to follow the blue line up the entire length of his arm to his elbow where he stopped to watch the blood shooting forth from his arm in waves along with some strange pleasure he felt in his groin… then everything stopped. The pain of existence stopped, the knowing stopped, the pictures in his mind stopped, the pretending stopped, the excuses stopped, insomnia stopped and there would be no morning.
His mother found him. His sister heard the scream and rushed into a new scene where the blood smelled fresh and musky and her brother lie pale upon the floor with an Exacto knife hanging out of his arm and a strange smile on his face. The room was covered in blood as if someone took a can of paint and threw it against the walls and onto the floor.
She didn’t scream – she simply took her mother’s hand and led her to the couch and made the 911 call. She smiled as she greeted the officers, nodded to them and told them he was upstairs in his room. She sat silently next to her mother who was also silent, and both waited until the body was removed and then proceeded to answer the myriad of inane questions asked by the officers.
When it was finished, she smiled again, nodded her head and offered “have a nice day”.
She knew that it was never going to end – mother would soon take her life with the pills and she would be all alone. There really was no reason to be all alone – her family was somewhere out there in the darkness and she knew she wanted to follow her mother there too if that is what she would indeed do.
Her stepfather had stopped coming home after work soon after her father died, and this would just make him step further away… no, it was just her and her mother now and she would not be left alone.
She watched night after night, counting the pills her mother took and then quietly hiding the bottle, so she could try to sleep.
Then it happened, mother had taken more than half of the pills in the bottle and she knew she was on her way to the dark side. She emptied the rest of the pills, along with all the other pills she could find in the house, into her little hand and took mouthful after mouthful until she fell into nothingness.
It was done. The family was now together again perhaps or maybe they are forever lost to each other – no one here knows –it was so tragic and unnecessary they would say. Eventually, the subject was retired to the once a year anniversary where the neighbors would gather and tell the story to their children as if it were an urban myth made up by some idiot to scare them.
The sun comes out every day and the neighbors greet each other with their smiles and waves – the sounds of dogs barking and children playing fill the air. You can hear music in the distance and the smell of chlorine from the pool full of children at play in the yard two doors down.
Tom and his buddies have gone to the golf club for a game of nine to get some exercise and talk about their jobs, their wives and kids and the newest gadgets they have acquired. Everyone smiles and nods their heads to one another and offer each other a good day.
Meanwhile, the insomniacs wonder whatever happened to that one guy who called himself “Just Joe” on his profile and that other kid who came on late at night, what was his name? He was cute but strange and some said he was a cutter. Oh well, hope they are okay while the rest of us talk all night about our insomnia, our problems, the injustices in our relationships and the world in general.
In a strange way, we are still smiling at each other, nodding our heads and wishing each other a good day… but this in the virtual world where no one puts guns into their mouths, cuts the length of their arteries or takes handfuls of pills. No, here in the virtual world of insomniacs people just disappear, and it is assumed they have found their rhythm again and have rejoined the day people. We’ll miss them.