The Kind of Tired Sleep Doesn’t Fix

by William Dammers

It’s 4:30. Your favorite cigarettes no longer taste quite the way they did when you first began to enjoy them.  In a corner of your small residence, a windowless region which offers very little insight to the outside world (the use of the word ‘outside’ being rather broad here, as the unending columns of concrete, glass, and steel spiritually stifle you like a wet rag, much the same way as any claustrophobic enclosure.), you sit in an old chair, likely purchased secondhand at some thrift store, or from a generous neighbor promising “a good deal.” (The word generous is also misleading; you hardly see your neighbors, and while you don’t know them very well and could not say for certain why, your inclination is that ‘generous’ is just not the right word for them.)  You set down yesterday’s paper as you take another heavy drag, and pretend the absence of your favorite qualities of the cigarette don’t bother you, and despite your efforts to repress the thought it crosses your mind that they were never actually that good to begin with, and you grimace hard as you try to shove that feeling back down to depths unknown.

In the absence of everything else you could think about, your mind goes blank.  Though you know and are firmly aware that you have no thoughts, there is still the bitter aftertaste of something unpleasant, lingering like the chemical fog that now hangs around the bare, exposed lightbulb above your table.  You hesitate.  It’s another day at work.  Another day at the factory.  You leave your apartment, and somehow, despite having no recollection of the events between locking the door behind you and shambling up to the punch clock, you know that all of it happened.  You find yourself in the exact same position you have found yourself ten times, one hundred times, one thousand times (et cetera) before, and the empty bitter feeling comes crawling back up, like the smoke that curls outside of your lips.