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Just Go to sleep

Kate Kuehl
Screen Shot 2023-04-24 at 12.22.28 PM.png

"Smokes Again"

Austin Yackle

Just go to sleep. You’ll feel better in the morning.


I climb the stairs as dread knots around my stomach. That’s exactly the problem though, I can’t go to sleep. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to. Going to sleep doesn’t seem possible. Morning seems far away, and I begin to sense that tonight will never end.


Just go to sleep. You’ll feel better in the morning. 


This thought runs through my head, along with many others. At the stroke of midnight, the floodgates of my mind open for a heyday of havoc. These thoughts give me the sensation of drowning under their weight, except they hold no weight or meaning at all. It confuses me, how my mind can wander in the wee hours of the night, yet never when I truly need it.


My mind plays tricks on me, too. I don’t know if the clothes hanging limply in the closet are just my clothes, or if something darker lurks within the shadows of the room that seems suffocatingly small.


Not only is my mind against me, but everything else begins to fall in on me from all sides. The wind rattles the window panes, a sound that wakes me up all over again, though I’ve yet to fall into any kind of meaningful sleep. The house settles, but it sounds like the footsteps of a phantom keeping me from shut-eye. Even within the walls of my room, the small sounds become amplified in the late hours of the night.


The ancient ceiling fan creaks and hums, but at this point, it sounds like the scream of a banshee, deafening and never-ending. The fan causes things around the room to move, too. Papers begin sliding around on my desk, the friction creating a sound directly next to my head. The fan also rustles the dress bags shoved in my closet, once again redirecting my attention to the large black spot in the corner of the room. All these sounds make it that much harder to fall asleep, but also that much harder to discern fact from fiction.


My own body betrays me. My comforter weighs a thousand pounds, causing my breathing to become shallow and shaky. Every position remains awkward and uncomfortable. Right side, left side, back, stomach, nothing works. The fabric of my pajamas gives me the sensation of little knives cutting me all over my body, causing me to itch and scratch, resulting in even more discomfort.


Sweat forms on my face, a result of the battle with myself and my surroundings. Everything constricts me. I’m uncomfortable in my skin. I would do anything to strip this feeling away, but the situation is impossible to escape. No matter how many times I toss and turn or readjust the rock-hard pillows under my head, nothing helps.


At this point, I have no idea how much time has passed. I turn once more to look at my alarm clock. 1:23 am. I turn back onto my stomach, preparing myself to continue battling for much-needed sleep. I continue to toss, turn, and toss some more. I even resort to getting a glass of water, hoping the diversion tricks my mind into relaxing so that I can get some shut-eye. 


By the time I return to my hell of a bedroom and try to sleep, it seems as if hours have passed. My shoulders slump forward and my feet drag against the hardwood floors, a sign of exhaustion or defeat, I can’t be sure. At this point, I can’t think of anything other than my feelings of annoyance. The only thing I want at this moment is a minute of peace from everything: from my mind, my body, and the world around me.


I turn once more towards my alarm clock, a neon red sign in pitch black. But when I look over at its large red numbers, all the air leaves my body. I turn my back to the taunting clock, conflicted as to whether I should cry or scream. I force myself to take a deep breath as I mentally prepare and settle in for the rest of the night. From behind, the time of 1:59 am mocks me because it knows that at this moment, it has the upper hand.

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