The Monster under my Bed
I sometimes stay awake, gnawing at the edge of my pillow, on the dying skin that peels off my fingernails, on the ends of my hair. I’m trying to sleep, but I can’t shut down the static of thoughts that buzz through my head. That feeling of nausea clamps at my stomach, and I stare at the jagged slivers of light from Royal Parade that cut across my ceiling. I try counting backwards, try meditating, try keeping really still and breathing slowly, but none of it works. I can hear the late night drivers, the beeping of trucks, and the drunk college students heading back from Turf.
Did you drink that Goon punch? It tasted like shit.
It’s happening again. I can feel it blossoming outwards from inside my chest. Tendrils that slowly branch out and envelope me. It’s an intensely physical sensation. I try and focus on something, a point of light, or the stray thread of hair trailing on my pillowcase. Stare at it without blinking. My eyes water.
Sleep. Try to sleep.
I repeat it to myself, it becomes a chant.
Midnight replayings and restlessness.
I can feel sweat tingling on my back and seeping onto the mattress. I pull off the covers, but I feel too exposed. When I was 8, I read Where the Wild Things Are, and built my own childhood mythology around it. I had this superstition that there were creatures that lurked under my bed, and my blanket was the only protective layer that prevented them from attacking me. Even in the peak of summer, I was too afraid to expose my feet in case a hand appeared from the depths of my mattress and dragged me under my bed into a dystopian version of Narnia.
I watch the green fluorescent numbers. 2:03.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
How did I not notice the ticking before? It’s so loud.
The ticking resonates through my skin, beating in time with my pulse.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
Block it out. Try and focus on the speck of light on the wall.
I bury myself under my pillow.
TICK. TICK. TICK.
I rub my eyes. Residual mascara clings to my eyelashes, spidery and clumped. As I run my hand across my forehead, I can feel small craters bursting forth.
When I was six, I watched the Jungle Book every day for an entire year, and it always felt like the first time. It didn’t matter that I knew what would happen, I was completely and uncynically fixated with the process, with the incidents leading up to the finale.
Sometimes my brain replays incidents, like my constant rewatching of the Jungle Book, it’s always the same film spool, playing in a constant loop. I can quote all the lines, remember every detail with clarity. Once I start watching, I can’t switch it off.
I feel the gnarled hands close around my feet. I try and cling to the mattress.
I’m being dragged under, thoughts and memories bursting forth from the sealed off corners and carefully constructed barriers, seeping into my waking mind.
Please, I just want to sleep.
We had such a great time last night, it was kind of crowded, but the drinks were so cheap. Except I’m so hungover right now, I just don’t know how I’m going to make it to my 9am. How’re you? You look kind of tired, did you do anything last night?
Yeah, I just rewatched a film. A bit of an old favourite.