Before Sleep

I'm awake right now; painfully awake. The kind of awake where you wonder if you'll ever be able to sleep again, like sleep were just some spanish class you took for two years and high school but never fully understood. And now that you need to speak it you cant remember a word, only that you're supposed to know it and don't. And the sickest part about sleeplessness is that it compounds. The more I toss and wriggle under the blankets, the more I feel uncomfortable and wide, oh so wide, awake. Paradoxically the later it gets without drifting off into unconsciosness, the sickeningly early the clock looks. 1 am. 2 am. I keep asking myself over and over again, Why am I not asleep? Ive taken sleeping pills, headache pills, had a glass of cool water, and am lying in a warm bed. It's inky black in our bedroom and Jusje is snoring loudly beside me. I gave up jabbing him in the side an hour ago. Now Im resigned to listening to the rumble in his chest as I gaze blankly at the ceiling. The first thing I think is how disgustingly dusty our fan is. This is a bizarre thought, mostly because I cant even see the fan at the moment. I cant see anything, but that doesn't ward off the vision of the fan's spokes clothed in an inch and a half of dust. I imagine it as clearly as if my lamp illuminates its endless, sooty spinning. I've thought of this fan so many times; a shrine to a to-do list that rolls off into the horizon of infinity. I know this is just another symptom of my seriously out of control OCD kicking in. The later it gets, the more my thoughts spiral downward, tipping wildly into dark alleys full of hostile silhouettes.

I know I should try and stop, but like a drunk, I stagger aimlessly forward. I lie here, numbly spectating on the torrent of memories that come faster and faster. I see myself again at 15 and 16, so naive and desperate. Desperate and panting for freedom from my family and my life and the weight of loneliness that is crushing out my breath. I am crazy about him for all the wrong reasons. To me, he is freedom and a future, one that doesnt include cramped rooms, second-hand clothing, and mismatched furniture. He is intelligent and well-off. His family loves him and he them. He is a bright thing, an image of what my small mind sees as perfection. And I want it and him so badly that I feel sick from it. He could't possibly understand the terror I feel at being in this box a minitue longer. How could he see the anger and loneliness, how my days are a blur of anxiety, terror, and intense frustration at my unforgivable helplessness.

I don't blame him anymore for not wanting me. I think it took me years to feel that way, but now I honestly feel glad by the thought of it. Our differences, our severe clashes of temperament were never meant to attract. But then, in that place, I would have traded the world to be loved by him. I would have been anyone he wanted me to be, and OH how I tried. . . How different my life would have been if I hadn't. Sometimes I think about that, especially on nights like tonight. If I hadn't gone to that University. If I hadn't scrutinized every aspect of my personality and tastes in an excrutiating effort to please him. These are poisonous thoughts.

Once the cycle starts, the reel spins faster and faster. I see each of their faces in succession, our awkward conversations, the gropings, the pathetic DTR. All of it resounding one simple phrase with violent repition: you are not enough.

Jenny Smith

3705 Oceanview Drive, Denton, TX, 76208