When I stopped wanting—wanting to work, make, feel, be—I started sleeping a lot. I don’t know if you know this, but there’s a kind of limit on how much one person can sleep. Even after hitting that limit more than a few times throughout my life, I still couldn’t tell you what it is. I haven’t done any testing. All I know is that it exists. A thin line, dictating your ability to sleep and to not.
When I crossed that line, I took up space instead. I sunk into my mattress, eyes strapped to the ceiling of my drab cardboard box of an apartment. It was summer, so I’d left the windows open hoping that it would cure the perpetual pool of sweat that had settled under my tits, leaving little bumps that felt like braille as I ran my fingers across them in the shower. I bet it said something like let me breathe. So, I kept the windows open, which inevitably let to a small infestation of flies.
They were everywhere. Swimming in unfinished cups of coffee. Dancing on day-old PB&J sandwiches. Traveling through the shiny interiors of family-sized bags of potato chips. I had been face-up on my bed like this, staring numbly at that eggshell ceiling, for the tail-end of the morning. I’d once heard that you could overdose on sleep. After having tried, I can tell you that it’s pretty fucking hard. I’d already had my fill and now my eyes could only lay open, glazed over like frosted windows.
The chorus of flies had fallen into this soft hum, which melted with the music flowing from my phone speakers. It was always Joy Division, or Bauhaus, or those obnoxiously depressing Beatles tracks like “I’m Only Sleeping”. My stomach rumbled and I woke up for a moment to question survival. Trader Joe’s—too far. Bodega—too far. Fridge—too far. The pain in my stomach hit again by went unheard. Maybe later. Coffee and a couple pieces of toast was what I ended up having. The usual.
It was hot around noon. I mean hot enough to notice, even in my half-alive state. The flies had increased in number and I started to feel a tickling sensation on my limbs. Then my chest. And finally, my face. I thought for a moment that my body had gone into some kind of atrophy until I saw the flies tap around my peripheries. I laid as they crawled, only blinking and releasing short bursts of breath to keep them away from my eyes and nose. They covered me and I remember thinking, only for a moment, that I knew what it would feel like to be a living corpse.
Five thousand or so rotations of my fan later, I’d moved to the shower. I don’t remember getting there, but I remember croaking into a sob on the floor as the warm water ran down my burning cheeks. I remember the song that played. Some time before, the playlist had changed and this song came on that I’d never heard by a band called Joyce Manor. To this day, I’ve still never listened to any of their other stuff. The song was called “Constant Headache”—on later listen, I realized that the lyrics really had nothing to do with how I had been feeling. But the line that sent me into that crying fit was impactful all the same. I’m just a constant headache, a tooth out of line.
Later, I’d have a guy fawn over my knowledge of it. As if I was some truly cultured person for knowing this song. In reality, though, I was just depressed. Which, funnily enough, was the exact reason that guy stopped seeing me so many months later.
I don’t remember getting out of the corpse that I’d fallen into that summer, but I did eventually.
I probably wrote something.