Sleepwalking 4 by D.I. Jolly
Jeremy had never been a great sleeper, always waking up a few times in the night to pee, get a glass of water, or simply to roll over. But as he got older something changed and things had somehow got worse. His usual 6 hours of broken sleep turned into 3 hours of dozing and after a few weeks, he’d fallen into a strange perpetual haze of not ever feeling quite awake but not being able to fully sleep. Just drifting through his days like a dream with only short moments of clarity when he’d have to focus to solve some problem or answer a question, then would slip back into the haze. His social life quickly became a burden which he needed to put down and before long he’d fallen into the pattern of drifting to and from work, never sure if he was actually ever awake or if it was one prolonged boring nightmare. Not horrifying, not twisted, just devastatingly mediocre. As time went on, he started to notice the expression he saw in the mirror each morning, mirrored on the faces of the people around him and he realised that he wasn’t alone in his meandering daymare. A distant interested part of his brain started to remember what it was like to think and tried to find a way to be heard.
It took a while but he eventually realised the highest concentration of sleepwalkers were on public transport in the mornings and afternoons, with fast food and takeaway restaurants a close second. There were always one or two in the supermarkets but since cooking often took more effort than he could muster he was rarely there and the voice in his head thought that might be the same for the others.
To his frustration, he’d managed to fall into doing most of his active thinking at night just before his few hours of half-remembered sleep, and it was there he realised that not only had he forgotten what his friends looked like, but he couldn’t even remember some of their names. As he drifted off, he thought he could see some of their faces but when he came too a couple hours later those images had disappeared, replaced with the thick dull fog his mind spent most of its time in.
Everything took effort, nothing felt easy, tv shows with any sort of a plot quickly just became blinking lights and too much noise. Movies were way too long and books were totally out of the question. But the memory remained, that distant whisper of a thought. A small single shiver trying desperately to realise itself. Wanting to tell himself that something was wrong. That there was another way, that doing less was not the answer and the more he faded into the haze the less of him would be left if he ever tried to come back, to wake up from the exhaustion.
Then it happened, in a dream, a moment when the moon and the sky conspired to stay dark and quiet for just the few seconds more than usual and Jeremy slipped into a moment’s real dream. The world around him turned bright and the gentle whisper into a scream.
“Live your life, do more, fight, sing, dance, scream, and WAAAAKE UUUUUP!”
The sound hit him and he leapt from his bed, feeling like he’d just taken his very first breath as if he’d just opened his eyes for the very first time. And the world was still there, it was covered in the durst of regret and lost opportunity but it was still there. It could be wiped off, repaired and repolished and it could shine again. He remembered his friends, he remembered himself and he found in the mirror a smile. The sun was not a curse anymore, and he pushed himself to do things, find people, be active and the fog lifted. Moving became easier and before long the haze took the place of the distant memory and then, with some time and with the help of good company, it disappeared altogether.