• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Sleep Story - Sleepless Night

The night before last left me unvisited by sleep. So far as I can tell, without yet having raised the issue with that mild, nocturnal god, that dream-inducing deity by whom rest is as easily given as withheld, he must’ve judged my bed uninviting. Painful though it is for me to admit, there’s no other explanation by which I’m convinced, nor a conclusion at which to arrive.


Doubtless, he counted me among those in his unchosen tribe, a condemned mass of the “unelect” to whom his pleasant gift is, from time to time, and according to his capricious will, refused. He must’ve deemed, in his close scrutiny of my wretched lot, a look by which his aerial appraisal was quickly informed, my house inhospitable, my quarters unaccommodating, and my wellbeing—so very precious to me—small and undeserving of his lordly time.


It’s as though, like a Jewish-Egyptian living in the solstice of the North African heat, before whom the division of the salt-laden sea is yet to unfold, and, beyond that, another barren desert to appear, my humble residence was passed over. It was skipped by a power far greater than my own, by a being about whom I can do little more than wonder, to whom, for want of his great gift, I’d offer every pagan supplication, burn every smoky incense, and mutter every Greek or gentile prayer.


I noticed not the lintel of my doorway ensanguined by fresh-drawn blood—by the beaming life of the generous lamb, by whose spotless virtue and quiet capitulation, more than half of my sun-tanned ancestors were so long ago saved. My room, in a word, was not arguing with a crimson message to be ignored by an active and invigilating god. It was not trying to evade his unfailing detection, a keenness of eye through which not even the smallest misdeed or petty detail is apt to slip.


It was, on the contrary, begging to be graced by such a heavenly encounter. It wanted nothing better than to be visited by the divine presence of sleep.


Every neighbor by whom I’m surrounded seems to have enjoyed his genial company. Everyone basked in his nightly embrace, as I once did. Some fell into the swaddling clutch of his boundless arms, kindly encompassed by their wide girth, while others warmed themselves in the heat of his bosom. All around me was quiet—all perfectly still. All around me was placid—all spangled with bliss.


The growing turbulence of my soul (as the hours marched by) went undetected, and none was sensitive to its agitation and alarm. I alone was forsaken in this world, over which the soothing waves of sleep had started to flow. I alone was neglected by the god, left on the coarse beach of a rugged and distant island. There I sat, in a state of dreamless sobriety and joyless ennui. I alone was untouched by his slumberous kiss, by which grown men are intoxicated, and young children lulled. I alone was excluded from the warmth of his embrace, to which, so far as I could tell, all others had been offered membership at no cost.


Lonesome did I spend that night’s many hours. Anxious did I count its endless minutes. Fretful did I wish-away its stubborn seconds that felt as if days. Restless did I rise when the light of the moon yielded to that of the sun, and with sadness, only, did I proceed to reflect on so torturous and interminable a night.


I laid down to rest, expecting, as usual, a slumberous accompaniment, but enjoyed the presence of no such friend. On such a night as this, sleep is unpunctual to arrive, and hasty to leave. It lingers for a moment, and with celerity retreats. It offers a dalliance, at best, but nothing more substantial than this. It is not a long-term relationship, but a temporary liaison, one tentatively forged, only to be promptly broken. It’s a faithless lover and a fickle friend, not a comrade on whom you can rely for any duration.


I exhausted every effort by which sleepiness, having fallen asleep on me, might be provoked. I softened the lights beneath which I sat, and thought of what next to do. I relaxed my eyelids—upon which heaviness had yet to settle—assumed a recumbent pose, and slowly read the contents of a meaningless book. The lines left no impression on me, and no closer to sleep than when I’d begun.


I exchanged the book for an instrument of a different type, one, likewise, that’s the offspring of wood. With guitar in hand, I strummed a few notes, by which my empty room was filled, and, for a brief moment, my aching distress assuaged. They issued forth in a lugubrious manner, the result of my playing in a minor key. Yet, despite their music, melancholy but sweet, I was brought no closer to slumber.


Frustrated by so many failures, and daunted by the countless hours with which I was still to contend, I conceded the game. Wakefulness was triumphant; defeat mine to suffer. I abandoned the fight and retrieved my pencil and notebook, upon which this humble entry was inscribed. I wrote it for you, and recite it for your comfort, when you find yourself likewise forgotten by the god.


When your room is passed over, and your weariness ignored, and your sleeplessness becomes your unfamiliar plight, find solace, if not slumber, in this recording. I hope to give cheaply that which Morpheus holds dear. I hope to help you to sleep.

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