Wednesday, 13 July 2011

On sleep paralysis

Yesterday didn’t exist.

When I’d tried to sleep the night, I was paralysed. My limbs were anaesthetised tree trunks trying to recoil from the chainsaw’s grimace. I could hear it biting the air and I tried to scream in tandem for help but he wasn’t listening, he was asleep, and besides my lips were entangled in the tentacles of the swamp, and I couldn’t pull them apart.

I fell out of bed. I watched myself slither, shoulder-first, to the floor. Gravity was furious with the levitations I’d been attempting in the sepia corners of my dreams. Gravity knew I’d been trying to wriggle from its grasp, aided by powders and potions, sleepless nights and meditation. It hacked my scruff and forced my face to the floorboards and it pushed until I felt metal blood circle the caverns of my mouth like a pike.

I thrashed in a straightjacket sewn from shadows and I balled fists. My screams were subterranean. Sheets entangled between my feet, wet with sweats and horror. James was still asleep when I found a footing on the riverbed and wrenched my sodden limbs back. The room was still murky and tinged with malice. I lay in sweats and screams and tried to wait for my heart to subside.

After a time, the fingers found me again. Shh, it’s fine, it’s fine, close your eyes, it’s fine, close your eyes, it’s bedtime, and I fell and I was still again, I was lying in the bed, but my eyes were open.

I shouldn’t have felt such terror. All that was wrong was the notes of the scale running up and down like footsteps on stairs beneath the bed; all that was wrong was my muscles tranquilized and incapable of flight; all that was wrong was a clawing, crone-fingered horror that massaged my skin, deep into the tissue, fingering for my fall.

It went on all night long.

I strained against the softness of eyelids; I fled the denizens of dreams. I waited for morning to escape. I slipped up. I slipped inside again. I screamed; I was silent. When I woke, it was with defibrillation. I was scared of shadows and scared of sleep.

So yesterday didn’t exist. Or I didn’t exist for it. There were slugs under my tongue instead of words. It was too tedious to recount. I was wallpaper paste and old tapioca. Humn. Wet terry-towelling clinging to the concrete breaker. Who cares?

I’m awake now, though. I’m drinking coffee.

Crank up the Shonen Knife.


I’m going to write some stories now. Write a poem about the corners of clouds, about fondue and Rimbaud, passport controls and gyromancy.


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