It is just after ten PM and I’m about to go to bed, because I’m tired. I had good hopes for the day when I got up. I was going to buy a small heater for the fish tank and build a carbon rock filter and maybe buy some fish. I was going to visit Perk’s Coffee like I always do and work on sewing buttons onto a hat and maybe hold a small and meaningful conversation with someone new. I was going to Jazzy Java’s at 4 PM for a group meetup called “Gay Coffee.”
And I did most of those things. Except I didn’t get anything for the fish tank. I didn’t end of having the time or the desire. Instead I went to the sushi bar at Sakura restaurant, and the sushi chef made a vegetable roll specifically for a friend whose pain is everywhere. Botched surgeries. A stomach that can’t seem to handle food at all. A frustrated need to explore their gender and their identity. Who throws the internet bill, which has gone to collections, into the “Fuck it Bucket.” Whose sleep, when it comes, lasts for twenty minutes at a time before the migraine interferes, or the scoliosis in the hips, or the right arm that was broken and casted wrong which means it also healed wrong and always hurts … until the pain wakes them up. Delirious from the continued affect of Valium. Wind out the window makes her hand grip the bed sheet, as it’s violence enters their mind and begins to build it’s lies and false terrors.
I stay with them for a little while. Lightly scratching up and down their arm, massaging between the thumb and fingers, touching where the pain splits from the malformed jaw and shoots up in front of the ear and down the side and back of the neck, under the right eye that is like a famished oyster with its decades of dust gathered inside, pressed and preserved as a silver perl. And when I am certain they have fallen into a good sleep, I slip into my overcoat and shoes and drive home, my thoughts driven into the corner, made silent in the brooding shadow of too much emotion.
But I can’t write any more. I am sick with a nameless ache. I need sleep also, and someone to rub the world’s anguish from my bones, until I manage piece enough of my sleep together, like a jigsaw puzzle from fifty years before I was born, the pieces mixed with other puzzles and many lost to the appetite of children and dogs.
How do humans ever get any sleep? I can barely keep my eyes open, but the nightmares are standing around the bar drinking and laughing and waiting to fool with me for an hour and wake me up again. If this belongs to the human experience, I want to go home now, back to my planet where the star is a little cooler and blue. Where the sky is on the green side of blue. Where the six-foot black herons would stand by the river with me and admire the waves and eddies and gravel bars and the shadows of fish we have no interest in killing. I don’t want to be human if it means those with nothing must suffer. If it means hearing the wind in the night, to feel it enter under the skin and grip that conscious living thing and whipping it away and dropping it into the Pacific or somewhere in the flooded Narrows at Zion’s Canyon.
I want to go home, but I won’t. Death is the only way back, and I won’t die. Not yet. Not when the fish tank isn’t finished and there is one person left who will fall into sleep because of my light fingered touch. As long as there is one soul who knows my sickness for home and would go with me, but won’t, as long as there is one person who is tired of failing to sleep alone. Whose skin is lonely for the careful touch, the cool hands, the warm breath of another homesick dreamer. Another alien trying and failing to pass as human.