By Steve Reynolds

I’d better do this fast, because I believe Sleep is out to get me. It’s merciless,Sleep; it doesn’t care about deadlines or the ensuing consequences of my failing to meet them. Sleep’s only concern, its sole purpose, is to put an untimely end to my already insufficiently productive day, and Sleep is very good at its job.

I’ve heard people speak of Sleep as a siren, a beautiful seductress that lures one into sinfully blissful naps and night’s rests. I wish I were so lucky. To me, Sleep is more a perpetual stalker, a ruthless, axe wielding demon intent on severing the ties that bind my consciousness to reality. I never escape; my resistance is inevitably futile. Sleep always wins. Sure, it may toy with me letting me think I’m putting up a good fight, giving me false hope that I’m able to evade and elude but deep down, Sleep and I both know it can take me out at any time, regardless of what I’m doing or where I happen to be. Loud music, ice for munching, massive amounts of sugar and caffeineI have my arsenal of humble weapons, and I’m sure Sleep enjoys a nice hearty laugh when I expect them to be effective.

Not long after I started college, I became aware of two bruises on my forehead, one on either side. “No big deal” I said to myself, figuring I must have bumped my head on something and assuming the faint but visible marks would be gone in a day or two. After a week, though, when the discoloration and accompanying pain had become more noticeable, my curiosity (and if I’m honest, my worry) began to grow. I was sure I was about to sprout horns, as I could contrive no explanation any more logical. Then late one night, while I was tackling the day’s homework, Sleep snuck up behind me and shoved my head into my desk, apparently with greater force than usual. “Ow!” I think it was the
sound of my own voice that woke me, not the impact. Then I figured it outSleep is not only a bodiless thief, stealing from me precious waking minutes and hours; Sleep is a monster, capable of inflicting real, physical, obvious to the world damage. The forehead bruising is trivial enough, I suppose, as are the aching back and the cricked neck that often result from a night spent in an office chair, but the very thought that I can be bullied and bruised by an invisible adversary against which I am powerless to defend myself is disheartening to say the least.

Like many deviants, Sleep is creative. It has been known to knock me out while I’m busy writing, then commandeer my pen and litter my paper with words of its own language, as if to leave some kind of sick and twisted calling card. I’ve attempted to translate its ramblings, but my efforts thus far have mostly been in vain. I can’t help but think that Sleep is taunting me, bragging that it’s a more competent writer than I. And perhaps it is the better of us; it’s definitely the more efficient. Some might even argue that Sleep has the better penmanship.

It hasn’t always been so terrible, the relationship between Sleep and myself. In fact, I remember the two of us getting along quite well when I was younger. Somewhere along the line, though, I guess I started to neglect it, and neglect evidently makes Sleep awfully angry. Now I feel like that guy in the horror movie, knowing full well that I’m going to end up a victim, just not being quite sure of how it’s going to go down. Will Sleep give me a warning, some indication that it’s about to strike, so that maybe I’ll at least stand a chance of crawling into bed before my day is extinguished? Or will it just hit me from out of nowhere, leaving me unconscious in my office, in class, in the car, in the shower, or in whatever unconventional and likely embarrassing place it so chooses? The suspense is excruciating.

True, Sleep is a very strong, very intimidating force in my life, and its attacks have potentially devastating effects on my productivity level, as well as on my poor body. Even after all it has put me through, however, I remain stubbornly optimistic I believe that one day, when I’m done with school and when I have a few less bills to pay, I’ll be in a position to negotiate an arrangement with Sleep. I won’t run from it; I won’t ignore it.

I’ll pay it the attention it demands, and in return, perhaps, it will be a bit more compassionate and understanding of my schedule. For now though, Sleep and I will continue this violent cat and mouse game, which, within the next few moments, I believe I will lose yet again.