Insomniac by Tim Frank

I’m crawling up the walls. I’m howling at the moon. I’m drilling holes in the floorboards. I’m eating butter straight from the butter dish with my fingers. I’m smoking rollies the wrong way round, sucking on a mouthful of tobacco. I’m discombobulated. I’m texting my fiancé in Nigeria. She’s asleep but I’m texting her anyway. When she wakes there’ll be over 100 messages waiting for her.

I’m sneaking into the attic and flicking elastic bands at dead rats. I find an old painting of my grandmother. She is elegant and her eyes speak to me. They’re my eyes. I’m going to hang them on my wall.

I’m shutting myself in my room, in the dark. I’m listening to Radiohead, Pink Floyd and The Smiths. I’m listening to the radio. There is war, and famine and tsunamis. There is football.  I hear the whole world spin. I am writing. I eat more butter, this time with toast. I’m hungry. I want Chinese food, Indian food, Pizza and crisps. I drink water, Coke and squash. My cravings never end. The more I eat the more I want.

I wrap the duvet around me; burrow my head in the pillows. I take a couple of pills and wait, and wait.

Moths are charging against my window.

My fiancée is up. Why aren’t I asleep, she says. Have I slept at all, she asks. She’s worried about me. I’m worried too. This is new, she says, what’s going on?

My dad can’t sleep either. His room is across from mine. We pass each other in the hall like zombies in the night. Oaaann, we grumble to each other.

The pills aren’t working and that’s bad because it’s all I’ve got. I can only wait.

I’m listening to some clips on my phone. I’m not supposed to because it exacerbates my problem, but I have to do something to fill the void. I’m a lonesome sailor on windy seas. My mind is awash with racing thoughts and surreal images. I see cat’s eyes, slugs, boiling kettles and hardcore porn. I see my brains on the carpet.

I’m listening to a Buddhist monk. He speaks of mindfulness, concentration and well earned happiness. His voice is peaceful and his accent is strong, preventing me from understanding his every word. But I get the gist. I know I will never achieve what he is saying. I see his brains on my carpet.

I went to bed at 11pm. Its 4am now. What can I do? I turn the overhead light on and look through my book shelves. I have a large collection. I’ve tried to read most of them – probably finished 5% of them. It’s like my sleep patterns; aborted. No, no I can’t read. I’ve got to go to bed. I must try. Back into darkness. Lasso my mind with a rope and drag it to the ground. Keep on it, keep it still until it wilts and breaks and bows to my force.

I feel something happening, maybe this is it. But the more I notice that things are progressing I lose my momentum and realise this is me trying to sleep, and gradually I slip out of unconsciousness.

But finally, I’m out, gone, under.

5 minutes later my alarm goes off, shaking my brain off its hinges.

Time to get up.

I’ll sleep when I’m dead.