Insomnia Prose

insomniac paints a self-portrait in the dark by Leela Raj-Sankar

you know that feeling when you’ve been awake for too long (maybe two days, maybe two hours, maybe you can’t remember) and your limbs are so heavy and the world is pink-tinged at the edges and spinning so fast that the noise in your head recedes for a few seconds/minutes/months (the clock on the wall isn’t working anymore, forgive me) but you still can’t sleep? sure. i think that’s the worst cliche i’ve ever heard–shouldn’t i be able to do this without falling apart? what’s “this?” sleep. eat. concentrate. what you’re feeling is reasonable. it’s hard for everyone. okay. makes sense. i’m young. you are. but say i can’t start this story the rising star and come back a full-grown sun, what do i do with that? that’s what therapy is for. (and drugs.) that too. is the hand tremor normal, then? i think so. side effects can be awful sometimes. yeah. yeah. and if the grades slip? that’s fine. you sure? i couldn’t finish the essay test on time the other day. my mind wouldn’t sit still long enough to read the questions. you really want another diagnosis? yes. no. maybe. what’s that even supposed to mean? medicine won’t solve everything, you know. you should try transcendental meditation. i don’t know what that is. look it up when you get home, okay? no, that’s not what i’m saying. i mean, i don’t know what this is. who i am, if i exist in the first place. you know who you are. not without all this, i don’t. technically i’m ten pounds lighter, did you know that? mom says the meds make me put on weight. don’t worry about it. we’ll switch them. didn’t you just say that wouldn’t solve anything? no. still. you’re shaking. yeah. change the subject, then. how was your day? good, actually. huh. afraid it wouldn’t last, but okay. proof you can function without painkillers. who said anything about painkillers? [a beat.] i don’t know what you’re trying to tell me. neither do i. you’re alright, then? is that a real question? not really. but i want you to love this, someday. this being life? this being me? they’re the same thing. does it matter? it should. do me a favor, would you? go home. get some sleep. is that even possible? sure it is. plant a garden. stop playing dead. i don’t know if i can. maybe you can’t. maybe it wouldn’t make a difference. that doesn’t make sense. that’s the beauty of the thing. it’s ridiculous. absolutely. and if all the noise in my head won’t go away? you don’t need to fight it. (fighting’s all i know how to do.) 

you don’t know this. 

you don’t know any of this, but i dreamt of you last night, on the bridge. (you kept me from jumping.) but that wasn’t the moral of the story, i think. then what was it? 

i don’t want a deathbed scene, not anymore. 

not anymore.

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Leela Raj-Sankar is a teenage poet from Phoenix, AZ. In addition to writing, she loves iced coffee, painting, and singing, in no particular order. You can find more of her on her blog at