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Posted 8/8/2013



There’s that tone in my head. It won’t go away. A melody so subtle and yet so persistent that I can’t get it out of my mind. Here a humming, there a whistling sound, hard to grasp but deeply rooted in my memory. Where do I know it from? I’m not sure… And it starts anew, distracts me from other thoughts, makes my entire body follow its own distinct rhythm. My eyes are closed, my head sways softly to that old lullaby and my fingers lazily mirror a conductor’s movements.

Only seconds before my head touches my chest, I shoot upwards, eyes wide open: I must not fall asleep! Energetically, I shake my head, getting rid of the first impacts of sleep. No, no, no, no, NO! As fast as I can I get up from the chair, fighting a feeling of dizziness. Instead of shuffling, I force my tired limbs to obey a steady walk towards the bathroom where the water on my face is so cold it makes my head ache. But I continue until I’m not able to bear it anymore. Looking up into the mirror, I see the red skin on my face and what strikes me most are the dark circles around my eyes. How long has it been since I last slept without any disturbance? Without the horrific images before my eyes? Without the feeling of guilt that always accompanies them and nearly eats me up from inside? Without waking up covered in sweat and breathing hard almost as if I suffocated? I think hard, trying to remember… But I can’t. My brain doesn’t work properly anymore…

And there it is again, that feeling that overcomes me from time to time. It weighs me down like some invisible force that wants to show me that I’m just a simple human being with no strength at all. Usually, I oppose that violent grip, trying to fight it off but today I can’t. I stagger to the bathtub, try to support my increased weight on the rim. But I nearly tumble and fall over before I can steady myself. My stomach clenches, I begin to choke, tears start coming to my eyes and that’s it: As fast as it came, the felt presence vanishes as if it had never been here. For a couple of minutes - or is it hours, it could also be days since I lost my sense of time completely - I stay in the bathroom, not knowing for what exactly I am waiting. But I know that it is essential that I am here when it (what is it?) comes…

A scream, a blurred image, people walking to and fro, a rising panic inside me… NO! You won’t get me, Sleep! Not me, not now! I’ll fight you like my worst enemy! Another splash of icy water surely helps, then a hard slap on both cheeks. It stings a lot, like a thousand tiny ant bites. The only thing that matters is that I stay awake.

Before I can begin to weave a new net of disarrayed thoughts, a shrill sound startles me. Frightened, I cringe and duck under a nearby table in the next room. What is it? Is it the presence again? Will it get me this time? My heart beats faster, my hands become sweaty, I nearly hyperventilate. And then there’s a voice, talking as if from a certain distance, sounding a little hollow: “Hey, it’s me, just wanted to make sure you’re okay. Please call me back.” It doesn’t make sense. Obviously, there’s no one here. My overtired, wounded brain can’t grasp the meaning of what is happening around me anymore, so I can’t decide whether I’m in danger or not. But before I can finish thinking about it, the room around me suddenly starts to glow. A surreal mixture of red and yellow, so bright it hurts my eyes. It hurts so much I want to cry but my dry eyes deny me that favour and so I need to face the pain, need to cope with it. Slowly, my legs nearly giving in under me, I walk towards the source of light, my hands always trying to protect my face. When I finally reach the source, I pound it but it doesn’t work, the light won’t stop blinding me. The only thing I achieve is a thudding sound, plus a slight pain in my fist. Then I see some kind of blanket hanging beside that light source. I drag it with all the power left in me and all of a sudden, the light is gone. With a sigh of relief I drop to the ground. I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. My limbs don’t obey my will anymore. My will? That seems to evaporate with every breath I take… It’s over, I fought so hard and yet I lose. It’s over, I can’t fight no more… It’s over, is my last thought when slowly Sleep’s tiny dark fingers reach out for me and seize me with such a fortitude I can’t resist anymore……