Short Story: There’s a Lack of Youth in Asia

The human body demands sleep. It necessitates it. We spend about a third of lives asleep on average, some more, some less. I read once that scientists can’t even figure out why we need to sleep. Something to do with a defect in cells that cause it to exhaust. I don’t know the whole story with all of that really, too brainy for me to be honest. What I do know is that, although most nights I sleep fine and it’s normal and easy, sometimes I’m afraid to go to sleep. I’m not sure if that’s weird or not, but it feels like it will be. It’s one of those things you can’t gauge for weirdness because you’ve never heard anyone ever have that same experience. It’s like saying you’re afraid of being a lemon. How could you know for sure if that was a common fear? You couldn’t, and you’d be reluctant to disclose your fear in case it was too weird. That’s what it feels like for me to be afraid to go to sleep sometimes. I don’t know if that’s an okay thing for me to be afraid of, or whether it’s just childish.

When I was younger there was this noise that used to scare me. It was like a really light clicking that used to move around the room and it came at various volumes. Sometimes it was far away and quiet, sometimes it was right next to my ear and loud. It used to keep me up all night, terrified. Now, the noise still follows me, I’m just not afraid of it anymore. What’s even weirder is that it isn’t just in my room at home. It follows me everywhere I sleep, whether that be in a different rom in the same house, or a different country entirely. I’m a bit sceptical to say that I’m haunted by a noise but the evidence is there. I read online that it was some sort of tiny bug that makes the noise. But I’ve never seen a bug in my room like that, and I doubt any bug would have the conscious capacity to follow around one specific individual just to scare him at night time.

To be honest, the noise is just a bit of background info. It’s not the reason that I‘m afraid to go to sleep sometimes. The real reason I’m afraid to nod off is because of these small panic attacks I get. They’re not overwhelming and exhausting like full blown panic attacks, but they do enough to scare me into being fully awake. I panic and can’t focus on anything else and I’m just consumed by thoughts of this one thing. The reason I’m afraid to sleep sometimes is because I can’t stop imagining what it would be like to be dead. Specifically, I imagine what it’s like to lack consciousness, to feel, or know nothing; to cease existing. It’s very uncomfortable and it relates so much to how sleeping feels that it scares me from wanting to do that. There is something very unsettling, but at the same time very natural, about not existing. See, it’s something that happens to all of us eventually, yet we know very little about it. We all don’t exist for a far longer time than we ever exist, in this way, in this body. Maybe we do reincarnate, but if we can’t remember the past life we led than you may as well be a brand new person anyway. I think dead people have secrets.

The idea of death scares me so much that I don’t want to sleep. This makes for some very productive nights, as usually I can sense the fear coming on and know that sleep will elude me. I try to do something productive on these nights; work-out, plan my week, do bits of work here and there. It’s pointless though. Thinking of death, even though it scares me, is addictive. I almost want to think about it, I want to be afraid. It’s like when you smell a bad smell. You hate the smell, but somewhere inside you, you still have the urge to go ahead and take another whiff. If I’m really honest with you, and I may as well be, the thing that scares me the most isn’t the thought of death, it’s the fact that the thought of death entices me. Death is something I look forward to, and there’s a large part of me that is terrified by this part of my character. It’s as if part of me is corrupted, and is a source of anguish for the rest of me on these nights when I am consumed by death. I’m so scared of this other part of me, this ‘death-lover’, that I’m afraid to go to sleep in case that part somehow figures out how to keep us there, to keep us dead.

Sometimes this other part of me is stronger than me, and it takes over. It consumes our brain with thoughts of death. It’s a cold darkness. He makes us want to move towards our demise. Sometimes he’s so strong that, he can take over our brain during the day, even when I’m with my friends or family. Although I still control my body, he’s very talented at manipulating me into thinking his glorious death is a desirable option. He contorts our mind, and shrouds my better judgement with doubt. Some days he’s stronger than others, and there’s times where I don’t feel his presence for weeks at a time. But he always comes back in the night, making death attractive, and scaring me into staying awake. He taunts and tempts and promises that we’re better off dead, and sometimes I believe him.

He often comes with a variety of quick, painless ways to kill us, in some distorted attempt to ease me into the idea. Lately, I’ve felt weak against his attacks, and sometimes I listen. This other part of me, the one obsessed with being dead, he isn’t a monster. He’s not evil. He just has a very, very different idea of what will bring him/us happiness. To him, I guess I’m the one trying to stop his happiness. There’s a lot of stigma that surrounds dying by your own hand though. Not that it would make a difference to me in the grand scheme of it all, but I’m sure that there would still be a deep Catholic shame in my family. See to be honest, I’ve been dead for years, in a virtual sense. Some people die early in life but continue to live, and I think that maybe I’m one of these people. I don’t have an explanation for this. There was no cataclysmic event, no terrible trauma that forced me to become this way, it simply happened. I’ve been dead for years. I have no preference for death or life. The other part of me however, has a clear preference for death, and since it doesn’t affect me either way too strongly, I’ve been considering leaving him have this one and final win.

I’ve thought of my family and friends already, and how this could affect them. I’m more concerned about my friends really. We live in a community that shames self-execution, and I’ll be painted as a monster, even though this isn’t really my choice. My family will survive. As I said there is a deep rooted Catholic tradition in my extended family, and there’s a chance that they’ll disassociate from me now that I’m ‘one of those’. They’ll act as if I never existed once the funeral is over. It doesn’t bother me really, I won’t be around to experience it.

I’m just tired. I’m so, so tired. My whole life I’ve had these moments of weakness where I’m afraid to fall asleep. I’ve been afraid of death. I’ve been afraid of the part of me that silently wishes for death. But now, I’m so tired that I’m not really afraid. I see death as a release, as the next chapter in my existence. Some people may argue with this, but that’s fine too. I’ve talked to my doctors about it already. All I have to do is sign some form and the next time I sleep, I simply won’t wake up. It was tough leaving home to come here, but euthanasia is illegal where I’m from. Tonight however, I won’t be afraid to sleep. Tonight I’ll finally get some rest. At 92 years old, I’m exhausted by life, and I have the right to die when I want.

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