Insomnia, by Ellie Cook



I count backwards, forcing my breathing to slow.


The light from the neighbors porch pierces through my thin linen curtains, and the glow plays across my eyelids. My lashes flutter. 


How many more nights like this will I have to endure? I can already feel my body failing to reset, and a sharp pain pulsates through my forehead. 


In and out. Let yourself sink into the pillow, my therapist told me. Picture your bones falling through your mattress like it’s quicksand. 


Here’s a pill, my doctor said. I swallow. Even though I don’t chew, it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.


125,126,127, the sheep loses his footing, and a sharp crack reverberates through my skull as its ankle folds, sending it crashing through the wooden fence.


The light from my neighbors goes out, and finally, my lashes are still against my cheeks.


In and out. My heart is hammering against my chest. A marching band of monkeys parades inside me, symbols crashing. Long forgotten nightmares from Toy Story resurface, and a child’s face, my face, barges in, unwelcome.


I’m sweating now, the deodorant I diligently applied after my shower is already fading, and I know there will be stains on my sheets when I finally give up as the sun rises. Like always.


My fists twist my duvet in frustration, and I can feel the down feathers bunching together, the spines pricking me when they catch at the wrong angle. My eyes fly open in surrender.


And then a hand clamps over my mouth, and I’m falling, the scream dying in my throat as I sink. It’s just like my therapist said: I’m falling through quicksand, but instead of sand, his eyes surround me. Piercing me like the bright light from the neighbors porch. 


Suddenly I’m still.


So, this is what it feels like to sleep again. My brain unravels as I watch energy drinks spill from my pores. He stands in the shadows. The jungle walls surround us, collapsing, folding, cracking, as he makes his way towards me.


“Who are you!” I want to shout. My mouth is still engulfed in silence, and I know my eyes bleed fear.


His pants swish as he walks. A comfortable gait. He’s taking his time. 


Is this what it takes for me to sleep? Is this the pill? I shiver as he nears, a hopscotch court away now. The plants at his feet glow flousflorecently, then wilt as he grazes them. 


Every movement he makes is taunting. His greying eyebrows giggle at me, and as a clammy hand runs through his gelled hair, I shut my eyes, a shiver shocking my bones. His heeled feet proceed. 


An arm’s length. He reaches out. I close my eyes, begging, praying to the gods in white lab coats to wake me up.


His skin is an unnamed color in the deathly green light of the jungle. One that I didn’t know existed until now. But it’s undeniably real as his red shirt sleeve rides up his forearm.


“Sweetheart…” he breathes, “You made it.”


I jerk my chin away as his swollen thumb grazes my chin. A touch of intimacy my insides would have once melted at, but I know if anyone tries on me again, I will be melting in fear-in horror; in remembrance. 


“What did you do…?” My voice is timid. I’m the sheep with the broken ankle, and he’s the wolf, who knows he’s too strong to need a disguise. “What… did you do?” Caffeine is now leaking from my eyes, and the last of my energy leaves me. I collapse into his high fashion arms.


His mouth curves into a grin, rounder than anything squats could ever give me. “Sweetheart, I did nothing the world wouldn’t do to you if you were still awake.”

Written by Ellie Cook