The night is far gone and the day is at hand, as they say — the preachers and the hopeful ones, the ones in need of sense. But I don’t search for sense anymore and I’m not hopeful anymore, and the only thing I’m looking for is sleep and the dry relief of closing my eyes in knowing I’ll forget all about them, the preachers and the hopeful ones, the ones clinging to the crumbling walls of belief and humanity.

I think I can see the wind rushing through the trees. I think I can hear the gusts streaming across the plain and carrying with them the dark, out of here, the blackness, out of here, the bleak morning crows, way out of here, is there — is there somewhere I could be?

Laura is sleeping tight in our room and I envy her.

She’s sleeping tight in our room and I hate her for it.

At the end of the upstairs corridor with the long narrow rug that muffles the footsteps and the creaking of the floor, with picture frames hung on the pale blue walls and more picture frames to be hung soon, there are pictures of happy future us, happy and fulfilled like future us should be, more pictures in the stairwell that I don’t want to see today, too much creaks, too loud, too close, like a toothy mouth snarling at me from the back of the house.

Everything is slower in insomnia.

Yet everything is more real.

Perhaps being free of dreams gives reality its true meaning.

Or is it the need for dreams?

The downfall always starts soft and easy when sleep won’t come. Quiet breathing, so quiet and warm before thirst sets in and shadows start moving on the ceiling and noises start rising everywhere, cutting into the minutes and the hours.

And then the thoughts begin.

The ticking of a clock and the brushing of an arm on a sheet, a mattress spring releasing under the movement of a hip, and the cars whooshing on the road, and the mice running in the attic, and the fridge compressor buzzing in the kitchen, and the distant howl of a stray dog in the hills — all coming down to thoughts surging at once, inescapable thoughts screaming and scraping and scattering in a thousand pieces in your head…

“Get naked,” Laura would say, but sex doesn’t help because sex is a claim of balance in a weightless place, an act, a game of shadows where light is shut.

So here I stay, here in the silent house, watching the sky lighten and the morning rise.

Here I stay, with my thoughts and my lone wishes for brighter days, remembering the face of this girl in this hallway, unsure she was dead yet seeing death all over her, remembering those holes in those lockers and those cries in those classrooms, with upside-down chairs strewn in the cafeteria where the last shot had echoed.

I was taught a body is a body. Flesh and dreams. Flesh and dreams piled up in a school hallway.

More picture frames to be hung soon in our stairwell.

“Have you been up for long?” asks Laura as she comes down in the kitchen, her round and shiny belly showing through her robe.

“A few minutes,” I reply, the sun filtering through the trees and casting its light over the preachers and the hopeful ones.