I can already tell it’s overcast through the slits my eyelids form. My eyelashes are slightly crusted together and my throat is scratchy; who else gets so lucky as to have allergies in mid-summer? Awesome. I roll onto my right side and prepare to lift my head, bracing myself for the throbbing headache that’s sure to follow. And……there it is. I squeeze my eyes tight and release them, the bright white of the clouds outside still flashing under the darkness of my eyelids, pulsing with the beat in my eyeballs beaneath. When I finally open them, I notice something in the corner of the bed. Something white. A crumpled up tissue? I can’t see without my glasses, but I reach for it anyway to bring it closer to my face. My fingers graze a material much rougher than tissue; as I bring it nearer I see that it’s a grocery store receipt.. how the hell did this get in my bed, directly next to my head? I uncrumple it, merely out of nosiness against my own self – what did I waste money on this time? But when I get it unfurled, my breath gets caught in my throat. I swallow it away. In big black, magic marker letters, and definitely in my handwriting: “don’t forget.”
Forget? Forget WHAT? I’ll tell you what I forgot already, and that’s writing on this piece of trash. And why is it on my pillow? Maybe it’s not my writing, but I don’t even know anyone else in this whole state nonetheless anyone who would write on my receipt… it’s definitely my receipt, I remember buying the nasty cheap Moscato wine, dark chocolate bar and chapstick just last night. And you know that warm fuzzy feeling when you see your own handwriting, you just know. I flip the receipt over for more clues, nothing. I say aloud,“Okay, cliché Memento scene, whatever.”
I toss it onto the night stand and get out of bed.
I hop into my bed, a new thing I do since getting a memory foam mattress. I love the sensation of NOT bouncing – that’s always been me, my thing, the anti-expected. I roll and draw the cover over myself simultaneously. Oh, how I love sleep. I snuggle up and, wasting not a precious second, start counting my sheep, my breaths, elevator floors, whatever gets the job done. I briefly touch upon every technique I’ve ever learned for sleep self-induction and relaxation, and usually by the fourth or fifth, it starts to work. Just as I am on teetering on the edge of consciousness and deep, beautiful sleep… an alarm sounds. No, not an alarm, more like a dog whistle. It is between my ears, loud and bouncing off the inside of my skull. It’s the loudest quiet noise I’ve ever felt and I can’t open my eyes, but the noise is so noxious that I am more concerned with making it stop than with my sight. There is no doubt, my head will explode any second. Just as suddenly as it began the vibration ends, and my eyes snap open. I can’t move my jaw, neck, arms, legs – then all at once sensation returns. My mouth flies open and my limbs fly up thanks to the energy of trying to flail. I sit straight up, look around, breathing heavy. What an odd nightmare. Slowly, cautiously, while skeptically glancing around my room, I return to lying on my side.
Not three minutes into my second attempt at sleep, it happens again. My eyes paralyzed shut, my brain and entire thought process being held captive in a tiny cell while this alarm sounds – but this time, it’s relentless. I feel it reverberating from the very center of my brain and smashing into my inner ear, but without the relief of release. I want to grab my head and cry out, scream, but I can’t move any part of my body. I have no idea how long this goes on for, but when my eyes are finally allowed to snap open and my limbs become freed, I am blinded by the light before me. It is only now that I sense that I am no longer in my own bed, in fact I am not on any surface at all, yet still in the side-lying position. I squint to see something, anything beyond the white light, the intensity of which is a close second to that sound in my head.
I awake with a start, lying in my bed, face down, throat and eyes on fire. Pushing myself up onto my forearms, I instantly begin dry heaving, sweat soaking my pajamas. I rip them off of my body and do an about-face in the bed, prepared to combat whatever may be lingering behind me. Nothing. Silence. I am alone. I remember now, and that this is not the first time and will most definitely not be the last. Why I have awoken before the morning this time, I’m not sure – those drugs must have worn off early. I grasp all around the bed for something to write with. I must remember this, I can’t let myself forget it and play the fool again. I jump out of bed and run to my backpack, pull out a grocery receipt. A marker from the mug on my desk. “Don’t forget,” I write… and then a dizzy spell. A pulsing headache. I make my way back to the bed, the receipt crumpled in my left hand. I collapse onto the bed, face down again, releasing the paper onto the pillow.