As usual, I’m hunched over the keyboard on the old oak desk in the lower left corner of my one room, train-side apartment trying
to write again. I keep resting my head on this wonderful, pea green refrigerator circa 1952. I’ve been at this fucking project for roughly four months, but nothing is coming. The more the time
passes by, the more I stare at the peeling, greenish brown walls in this apartment. I really don’t think that the word “apartment” is appropriate here. The word “compartment” would be better;
apartments are places people live, a compartment is where people stash things away. That’s what I’ve done with myself. I’ve stashed myself away until I write something worthwhile. So I should
correct my opening statement. It should go something like this: “As usual, I’m hunched over the keyboard on the old oak desk in the lower left corner of my one room, train-side compartment right
next to this wonderful, pea green refrigerator circa 1952, trying to write again.”
Sitting here is killing me. It’s all I do anymore because nothing is coming. The walls and the computer screen, the floor and the
ceiling, my cot, everything is just an object to keep me from writing. If I had nothing here, I’d find a way to focus on the nothingness, just so long as I didn’t write. The whole situation is
ridiculous, and what makes it worse is that it gets more and more difficult to focus as the time goes on. Boredom somehow transforms into exhaustion. My eyes start feeling buoyant, a sure sign I
won’t be conscious for much longer. I give myself an hour, tops. And there I go; wandering from the desk to my bed. For how short the trip is, I’ve never known it to seem like a leisurely or quick
one. Just like tonight, or this morning maybe, I’m not sure, it’s a fight to make it to my mattress.
That initial flop onto a mattress as you’re heading off to sleep is one of the most amazing feelings a person can experience.
Plummeting from five feet above that fluffy rectangle of happiness and hitting with a force that would cause a concussion if a harder surface was hit the same way, is beautiful in the same way
Thanksgiving dinner is beautiful: they’re both pure, unbridled slovenliness that no person would sneer at, or even think a judgmental thought about.
Then insomnia strikes. Insomnia is quite possibly the single most despicable problem in existence. It robs a person of the
raw joy of a good night’s sleep, and ruins any productiveness that the following day could offer. When it happens, there is nothing to do but lay, or if you’re lucky, take some kind of drug to
allow you to sleep.
Knowing that there is nothing to take, I choose my only option, and try to sleep, further acquainting myself with insomnia. By
now, we already know each other far better than I would like to, but still it never seems to pass up an opportunity to keep me company. At any rate, why break tradition at this point? It stared at
me from all directions in the fizzing, popping bedroom/kitchen/living room darkness. Insomnia never fails to taunt me, reminding me constantly just how tired I am, but never letting me drift off
long enough to lose consciousness. Sometimes it lets me start to go, only to jerk me back to the world at the brink of slumber. After a while, I try to force sleep. I slam my eyes shut, and try my
best to focus on nothingness, only to notice some second layer of thought, and I begin thinking about my need to go to sleep.
Insomnia does not do anything; it simply sits back, letting me do its job for it, laughing at me the whole time. Hours pass in a week’s time, and I am still not asleep. I just continue tossing and
turning, flipping the pillow over every few minutes hoping for the perfect temperature, but never finding it. I kick off my sheets and pull them back over my head in fits only minutes apart, and
get angry and blame this thing or that for my lack of rest, knowing that insomnia is a blameless complication.
I begin to think about the idea of insomnia in abstract, wordless ideas. These thoughts take on a frame within a frame feeling, layering on each other the more I think. They shoot off in tangents,
which branch off into others. The branches begin branching off into such abstract areas that they can hardly be called thoughts anymore. They started out organized, in neat little rows, then slowly
losing their form, becoming puddles of mud, dissipating into clouds of half-sleep thoughts, and finally losing their thoughthood altogether, changing from clouds to an aurora of dream which
starts permeating from the back of my mind. The dreams start as a thin veil over waking-thought, gaining thickness over time until no other conscious effort can pierce the atmosphere of illogic
that surrounds dream-thought.
Sitting up from my bed, I find myself balancing precariously on the tip of some spiral minaret and look around. I survey, through the masses of gray-black clouds, the pure, white landscape of
rolling hills dotted with occasional neon red sycamore trees. While gazing, I look down to find the minaret jutting some unfathomable height out of the alabaster ground below. My feet, apparently,
decide that west in the best direction to go. So they carry me out of bed and down the minaret, amethyst colored, muffin shaped platforms forming under my feet with every step on my descent.
On my way down, the platforms continue through some of the lower hanging iron clouds full of masses of buzzing electric beetles and a myriad of other animals composed of various proportions of
storm clouds and lightning. They swarm me, passing around me, and sometimes through me, causing flashes of indescribable colors and shapes. As they move about the clouds, the only sounds they make
are the occasional cracks and booms of their storm bodies, all the while never ceasing their voltaic hum. Lightning bolt eels and snakes slither through the nimbus sea, alongside thundercloud fish
and bears that are crackling thunderstorms in and of themselves. As my legs continue taking me lower, I can’t help but turn the parts of my body under my control back toward the clouds for one last
glimpse of the storm creatures. With the distance between us widening, I slowly lose sight of them traversing their semi-corporeal ecosystem.
The ground is getting nearer and nearer, and upon closer inspection, the albino hills reveal themselves to be less than solid. It seems to flow and be made up of an uncountable number of marble
sized white beads. Farther ahead are the red sycamores, snowy waves lapping against their trunks, causing tiny ripples to travel through the paper-flame trees, up the branches, sending tiny
flare-shards of glowing, sanguine leaves out into the air, only to dissipate into miniscule nebulas of copper dust in a matter of moments.
Finally, after descending ad infinitum, control of my legs is restored to me, and I step out onto the sea of marbles. A black spot forms under my foot upon contact with it, sending bits of itself
in all directions seemingly reaching each ruby sycamore at the same time, and causing them to be enveloped in flames of varying reds, purples, yellows, and oranges. In spite of the abounding colors
of fire now covering every tree, they all begin billowing the same coal shade of smoke in straight pillars that feed the clouds, gradually blotting out any light that was previously making its way
to the ground.
Most trees are now dwindling to the point of nothingness, with the last remnants of smoke finishing their ascent to the death colored cloud blanket above. The sky is completely blocked out, and yet
the ashen tide under my feet is emitting enough sepia light to keep the flowing landscape visible. The smoke-bloated clouds, now seemingly sagging, occasionally drop amorphous globules of blackness
onto a glowing, semi-solid floor. A soft sprinkle of the liquid shade begins falling, splattering on the ground into an ever-increasing coating of fog. As soon as it hits it forms miniature ground
clouds which, as if by some programming, commence drifting toward my feet. I try moving from spot to spot, then running when the effluvium continues closing in on me.
I give up. It flows under my feet, as if to reset itself, and slowly takes on its original form of a tiny, pitch black disc only slightly larger around than my size ten feet. I wait for the whole
process to repeat itself, but instead find myself being raised through the air. It is slow at first, but begins gaining speed, until I can feel the stale air making burn marks on any exposed skin
it can find. I lose the ability to discern any semblance of flow or even the marbles that make up the ground, and the charred sycamores fall out of sight at electric speeds. My cloud elevator
continues to shoot me skyward, back up through the low hanging clouds, where I see my thundercloud menagerie again, but only for a split second. Soon I pass my bed, still teetering on the very tip
of the minaret. The gaseous lift continues firing me up until I pass above the higher clouds. There is nothing but white light, which could only be described as a flash because of the speed of my
travel upward. Its brightness gives way to blackness as the former fog drives me through what little atmosphere there was, causing me to be uncomfortably warm, but it too, only lasts a matter of
seconds. I begin choking; gasping for air, in the area beyond the atmosphere, but the cloud platform never ceases its feverish movement, it only changes direction, making an arc to my left. My
lungs are aching, but before suffocation takes me, I find myself bubbling and covered in plain whiteness. I can see nothing but the color white in front of me and yellow-red flares peeling off in
the horizon, and all I can do is burn.
I shoot up from my bed screaming, hands over my face, eyes wide open in terror, only to find a few shafts of morning light peaking through the shades in my room. I let out a sigh of relief at the
realization of safety, and begin to fall back to my bed. Luckily I catch myself, and it hits me what just happened, so I bound out of bed, and make a mad dash for my computer, focusing in a
desperate effort not to lose my freedom from writer’s block.
© Copyright 2016 Jack Flagberry. All rights reserved.