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  • Writer's pictureAmr Abbas

Awake/Asleep: Part 1

‘Where did it all go wrong?’ I thought to myself, then I repeated the words audibly so I could hear them, “Where did it all go wrong?”

I could hear the panic in my own voice, a particular trait that I was always proud to have was my self-awareness. Certainly, I was not aware of where I had gone wrong, but I was aware that I was panicking; I could clearly hear the pounding of my heart in my chest. The coffee mugs on the table, the splattered cigarettes, the nicotine patches, all of that, my heart should not have been so mild to take it all in. I could no longer focus; my vision was blurry.

‘No!’ I thought. “No, no!” I repeated and with the words that squeaked out of my mouth, I slapped myself once, twice, thrice, and the fourth one for good measure. I could not sleep. I should not allow myself to even have the thought of sleeping; but how good would sleep be right now? Just…let it all go, just drop everything, forget the coffee, forget the cigarettes, forget everything and just sleep it all away.

The thoughts came loud, I could hear them, though, they were not in my own voice, I did not speak those words. I merely thought, but then again, at what point do the body and the brain malfunction to the point where everything becomes blurred? The thin line between remaining awake and falling asleep was growing ever thinner. Certainly, at some point, the coffee no longer works.

I stood, pushing the seat back gently, but I had little control over my body at this point and the soft push I gave the chair sent it back to crash against the table. And the clash of the wooden chair against the cement wall gave me a boost.

“Noise! Music!” The brilliant idea hit me, and I felt momentarily rejuvenated. Sleep would not have that power over me if I was moving, if I was running perhaps.

I quickly opened one drawer after the other in my desk and started humming a melody. Now, I was not one for music to begin with, I did not understand music nor did I care much for it but at this point, any sort of rush was good for me. I kept scrambling through the same three drawers until I found it. A little gadget that I was presented with some months ago on my birthday, a little music player. One which I had used perhaps once or twice just to test out. I pulled it out with the thin earphones and I immediately pressed the switch.

There it was! I placed the earphones into my ears and the music exploded. All of the sudden, I felt a rush gush into my veins; adrenaline found its way. Too much more and I would certainly die, but perhaps that was not so bad after all. I threw on my vest and skipped down the stairs to the street.

The colored leaves fell from the trees as I began jogging down the street. ‘You think this will be enough?’, ‘You can’t run’, ‘What’s next? You’ll need to eventually sleep’, all those thoughts raced in my head as I raced down the street. The sun was going down and with it the colors of the leaves. The world was growing darker and despite the music that played in my ears, I began hearing it. I glanced behind me, a pair of glowing eyes were following me from a distance, but there was nobody to speak of.

Suddenly, my feet knew just what to do. They were going faster than my brain was going. They were taking me away from the danger; from the monster that haunted my dreams. I could feel my calves burning up, but I could not slow down. Sweat formed cold on my head and the hairs on the back of my neck bristled. I was cold, but I was sweating; my heart was racing at the same tempo as the footsteps that followed me.

It could have been an hour that I had been running, or it could have been an eternity. I felt fatigued, but when you are running from something like I was, you don’t get tired. Your body may start giving up, but not your spirit, and yet, it all depends on how much you value your life. Perhaps what I was truly running away from was my sanity that had diminished. I no longer realized the lines that separate reality from fantasy. For all I knew, I was running with music playing and something was chasing me. Yet, I had never given it a thought; what was it truly that chased me? I hadn’t a clue. Yet, I ran.

The lights went out. The only source of light came from the shimmering moon that shied away behind the clouds. The cold was piercing my bones and my heart raced all the same. And there, I realized that the music had grown quieter and instead, the whistling of the wind through the leaves and the tree branches hissed and the echo of the footsteps in the distance still followed me.

There is a certain point when you should give up. There is a certain point when you should stop, turn around and meet your end with whatever you have left of dignity. But life, life is so precious.

I drifted to the thoughts and there, I tripped on a stone, a pebble of no worth or value. I fell upon my face and the dust, and the mud, and the dirt covered my face, my arms, my clothes. I turned to look at my end and I lay still. The faint light grew denser. There was no figure to make out, no silhouette to speak of, merely a visual noise, if the words should so describe it.

My heart beat like the drums of war in my head, and my veins pumped the blood violently through my veins. Everything was telling me to gather the willpower to stand, to fight for my life. But I had lost the will. ‘O! how sweet sleep shall be’ I thought as the smile curved my lips. The light that approached me grew denser and blinding, and I closed my eyes.

I closed my eyes.

Read Part 2 here.

Written by Amr Abbas.

Cover picture by Amr Abbas.


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