The Loneliest Hour

By Britni de la Cretaz

It’s 9 AM and the rest of the world is waking up and beginning their day. They’re putting on their clothes, brewing their coffee, and heading to work. They’re waking their kids, walking their dogs, and pulling on their coats. They’re bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and well-rested — and you hate them.

You’ve been up for 72 hours now. Sleep eludes you no matter how badly you want it, no matter how much your body needs it. Your heart pounds, your mind races, your palms sweat. You stare at the clock as it tick tick ticks, no closer to dreamland than you were when everyone else turned out their lights.

It’s the dead of night when everything is quiet and still and you’re left with nothing, no one. Just you and the crazy thoughts in your head. As the clock creeps towards dawn, the feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach grows. Soon you’ll hear the first calls of the early morning birds signaling the impending sunrise and you’ll know it has happened again — another night without sleep.

And you’ll do it all over — look out your window at the functional humans walking their dogs and rushing to the train. You’ll feel resentment, anger, and rage, feelings that quickly give way to jealousy, envy, and bitterness. You’re looking out at a world that you do not know or understand. You’re looking out at a world that you do not belong to. You are an outsider, an alien. They are everybody else.

You’re a real-life vampire, awake when the rest of the world is asleep. You live in different dimensions, you and those people outside your window, the ones who were seemingly given a secret handbook on How To Live A Functional Life that they never bothered to pass along to you. You do not know them, but perhaps more importantly, you cannot know them.

You may actually be alone in the nighttime, but you’re far lonelier during the day, even though you’re surrounded by people. They are people that will never understand the loneliness and isolation that comes with regularly seeing the hour of 3 AM. They will never know the eery silence that accompanies the hours before dawn, the hours that are technically the next morning but still feel like the previous night.

How could they possibly know what it’s like to evade sleep? How could they know what it means to look just like everybody else but feel so utterly and completely different? How could they ever know what it’s like to occupy a reality that begins when everyone else’s shuts off? They can’t and they won’t and you know that. And so you hate them.

And then the day arrives — just when you start to hallucinate from the lack of sleep, when you worry that it will never come. Your body shuts down, your head hits the pillow, and relief finally comes. You sleep deeply, sometimes for days. It’s over for now, but you know it’s just a matter of time before you and the dead of night meet again.

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