Insomniacs.

Young adult old soul magical realism writing Pascal Campion
Art by: Pascal Campion

I am bathing in the comforting darkness of a late, late night, caressed by its sweet anonymity.

Beyond the window, leaves rustle, but no one save the insomniacs like me hear them. Somewhere out there, if you follow the dark long enough, you will find the light. Somewhere in this night, there is a daybreak. Not metaphorically. But very much in actuality. If you walk and walk along the deserted highways, if you are able to slip through the narrow pathways that open onto the ocean and if, after that, you reach the horizon, there will be a sun waiting — warm and glorious. A promised day.

Somehow, it is there that I find myself now. In this rising sun, kilometres away from this dark room and the cold circulating inside.

I’ve done nothing in particular to feel like this. At times, these thoughts catch me off-guard and I stay up waiting for the sun to rise, feeling eternal.


Note: So when I was little, I had really bad insomnia. Often I would just wake up in the middle of the night and sit by the window in the dark, waiting 3 or 4 hours for the sun to rise. I’ve tried multiple times to write about these weirdly formative nights but they were just that: attempts. Somehow, this 2-minute midnight scribble is the closest I’ve gotten to describing the feeling 🤷‍♀️

The Night Train

“For all the times I couldn’t, I want to feel the night combing its fingers through my hair, arranging it into an artful mess filled with stars and visions of worlds I am not yet aware of.”

spiritedaway
Gif from the movie “Spirited Away”

These days, I am always out when the sun sets. Riding a bus, navigating through beaches and plains, cities and forgotten villages. I am out there when the sun sets, when the first neon lights come to life, crackling, blinking. When the street food vendors set up their stalls, preparing for the night’s work. I see them, women and men, faces lit by the artificial glow of a light bulb hanging overhead, waiting well into the night, alone.

I am out when the first star lights up the juvenile night. When the sun, in its last breaths, gives out an orange glow met halfway by darkness, cutting the horizon in half — turning the swaying trees into darkened silhouettes.

I am there, by a window always, in that darkened bus and its cold seats, where the rest of the passengers are quietly living poetry of their own, too. I crane my neck back, head pressed against the cool glass of the open window. I can never bring myself to close it fully. For all the times I couldn’t, I want to feel the night combing its fingers through my hair, arranging it into an artful mess filled with stars and visions of worlds I am not yet aware of.

I watch the night unravel, from the beaches, where a lone fisherman finally reels back his line, through the plains, cold and soothing, over the small lake, the one named “Solitude”, and through the village, to the fields.

We’re all going home, I think, as we pass by houses lit warmly from the inside. From inside the now still bus, my skin can almost taste that warmth, sink into it. But it is not really that kind of warmth I crave. There is warmth that has nothing to do with temperature or freezing fingers, and everything to do with the heart.

“Makes you want to go home, doesn’t it?”

The driver once commented, as we had stopped to let a stream of passengers out.

Quietly I said yes, yes it does. We did not speak after that, but I feel we understood each other, in a way. After all, there is a world out there only we know. A world of people in transit, waiting to get home, crossing worlds together to get there.

And in a way, in that strange, human way, the bus itself becomes a temporary safe place. We are all aware of each other, because there’s only ever a handful of us, at some point. We all look at who gets down where, even mumble goodbyes and wave tired hands. We all wish it was us, some of us out loud. When it’s pitch-black at the end of the night and you’re on a bus, you don’t wear a mask — you let the tiredness and the homesickness show.

The bus drones on for a while, the scenery passes, and so do the people. Life goes on, but not really, for me, for us. We are in transit, suspended somewhere between earth and sky.

When my turn to leave comes, when I finally see that bustop sign gleaming under the light of a streetlamp, I sigh softly. I smile at the driver and say goodbye, naturally, as though he is someone I have known for a while. And he watches to see that I’ve made it out safely. I, too, watch as the bus rides on into the night, to that darkened road that leads to the stars, and more importantly, home.


Note : I hope you have all been doing well! Fingers crossed the blog will be more active in June. Looking for this gif, I also stumbled upon this wonderful post, which details a scene from the movie this piece is inspired by amazingly well.

Blush Pink Afternoons

“But I sink so comfortably into afternoons— I unwind and my dreams, like birds, take flight, reaching the crisp saltiness of red and white lighthouses, or landing by the distant mystery of the lights blinking owlishly far up the mountains.”

9jedit6
Art by: 9Jedit

I want to swallow these blush pink afternoons the way you inhale a scent deeply, deeply to cage it in, to make your lungs swim in the perfumed pleasantness of it. Those I-can’t-wait-for-it afternoons after school and now after work, slipping out of civilian life, scrubbing off the city from your skin, all the smog and car honks and ruthlessness gone. Your skin clean, breathing again.

You know, these afternoons that dip into evenings, where the calm, ethereal colours of evening drip down the sky like watercolour.

I laugh now when I think about it. About how I used to think I was this mysterious night owl, how I embraced the night and stars.

But I sink so comfortably into afternoons— I unwind and my dreams, like birds, take flight, reaching the crisp saltiness of red and white lighthouses, or landing by the distant mystery of the lights blinking owlishly far up the mountains. My dreams, they soar, unshackled and wild into the sky, flying away into the sunset, towards that place beyond the pines and city walls where freedom lies. They fly beyond time, beyond physics or cosmology or sense. You see, the afternoon unleashes all sorts of otherworlds—dimensions that only tiredness can reveal. Colours that you can only see as sleep blurs the barriers between all the worlds, lulls your brain into letting the child from your memories out.

These afternoons, they’re also deep quietness and music that will not be listened to with eyes open. They’re for watching fingers that are not mine tracing the trail of smoke left behind by passing airplanes.

That brief twilight moment between afternoon and evenings are for warm hands that comb through headaches and glossy hair, that hold your hand as you bid farewell to the day that’s passed, wishing with all you have that you may be granted this kind of peace again.

via Blush — Prompts – The Daily Post


Note: There’s probably a second part to this coming up, so stay tuned!

The Lonely 1 a.m’s of Life

“At 1 a.m., we are too much of ourselves. At 1 a.m., we cannot handle the thoughts that take a highway to feelings…. At 1 a.m., your heart is a funnel for the feelings of all other hearts. “

michelleellis
Photo by: Michelle Ellis

I think a major reason why we sleep at night is to avoid living these 1 a.m’s. They are the moments when everything exists through a haze, as though any moment now you would realise you were dreaming and go back to sleep. But it all feels too real, too. The sounds of the neighbour’s air-con going off, the rustling leaves and the silence. It is calm even in your head. But there is no peace. Just contemplation. Just everything, naked, uncaring for the sweetness or brutality of Reality. At 1 a.m., we are too much of ourselves. At 1 a.m., we cannot handle the thoughts that take a highway to feelings.

At 1 a.m., the brain actually shuts down in part, something about needing rest and signalling that you’re tired. But the heart never does—it takes no breaks. So at 1 a.m., you have no thoughts, really. Only memories and sadness. Yes, 1 a.m. is the heart’s reign. So even the sadness is too complicated to dissect. Regret. Fear. Nostalgia. Hope. Useless wishes. Insecurities. This amorphous thing that is Life. At 1 a.m., your heart is a funnel for the feelings of all other hearts.

At 1 a.m., Life stares back at you, asks you who you are and what you’ve done. You’ve had 20 years—what are you now? Who will you be in another 20?

But because your brain is sleeping, because all your defenses are down, the only reply you give is the one that comes from your eyes.