I live in the darkness, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
There is some speculation that people can be born this way. Just like there are morning people, there are night people: something about their bodies keep them awake at night, and send them to sleep when the sun rises. I have always been like this. My mother calls me her little night owl. I prefer to think of myself as nocturnal.
As you can imagine, this has made school and life in general rather difficult. It was always a struggle when I was younger – I could never force myself to sleep at night, and would go to school exhausted the next day. The bags nature had placed under my eyes stood out even more dramatically to the tune of my exhaustion. By the time I reached high school, I had trained myself to live on little-to-no sleep. I would go to school in the morning, struggle until three o’clock rolled around, and then run off home to sleep until six or seven at night. All in all, I’d get three to four hours a sleep a day. It was painful getting used to it, and I’ve heard that sleep deprivation has awful effects on people, but, as my father would say, “it is what it is.” There is no use fighting one’s nature, and society is just as unforgiving.
So, yes, I am naturally nocturnal. My nights are spent tucked away in my room, watching TV or surfing the Internet. I’ve never questioned it much but, lately, I’ve come to think that maybe, just maybe, my nightly insomnia has something to do with the farm.
That’s where I was born and raised – my mother gave birth to me in the bathroom during a blizzard. The EMTs couldn’t get out and there was no getting to the hospital, not with the driveway hidden beneath six feet of snow. The first thing I ever saw was the naked bulb swinging from the ceiling illuminating the harsh white of the porcelain tub. At least, that’s what I imagine. Because since the time of my birth that place has always seemed so cold… it’s only natural.
Anyway, there isn’t much to the farm, really. It’s 300 acres, sure, but we rent the land out for other farmers in the area. My father was a businessman, my mother was a librarian. They didn’t care much for farm life, but the farm had been in my father’s family for generations and there’s no way he would sell, not on his life. That’s just the way he is.
Actually, my father is just like I am. I inherited my nighttime prowling from him. Everyone else in my family – mother, sister, brother – are all morning people. It’s a special kind of hell, for someone like me to be born into a family of morning people. But my father, at least, understood me. When I was very young and couldn’t sleep, he’d stay up and watch cartoons with me all night – Samurai Jack was our favorite. It was one of those sweet memories that made the farm seem warmer, somehow.
People wondered why I went so far away for college. It’s a small town and people talk, of course. And it wasn’t like I hated my parents or anything, despite their insistence on strange names and private education for us kids; on the contrary, I love them more than life itself. So why did I move thousands of miles away when my perfect family was right there in front of me?
Would you laugh if I told you it was because of that farm?
It was that coldness, I swear. No matter how warm my family life was, that fucking place was like ICE. When I was a child, I often had the feeling that this was where animals came to die. It made sense, since the farmers in the area made use of our barn as a slaughterhouse, but it was even something beyond that. It seemed like the very earth itself was frozen solid, perhaps by nature.
Perhaps by something else.
So I did what I had to and I moved away, just like that. My parents didn’t mind – they were actually excited that I had left our little one-horse town. They thought I might make something of myself. At least, my mom did. When they congratulated me on getting accepted to university, I saw something strange in my father’s eyes.
I wonder what it was.
You must be wondering, what’s the point of me telling you all this? What does it matter and how does it concern you?
You see, my father has become sick. He has become very, very sick. He is no longer able to oversee our land as he once did. And my mother, always having been in frail health, is not up to the task. My brother and sister, both older than I am, live nearby – perhaps it is logical that the task fall upon them.
But there is one little thing that I haven’t told you yet.
My insomnia is my nature. I accept this. But maybe, just maybe, it has to do with The Dream.