Chris Sutcliff

Artist Man I am
20th Apr 2010

Song Of The Sleepless.

The night is still as a mill pond and I suspect it harbours the same forlorn depths. I’m staring through the window at the firmly shut doors of all the sleeping neighbours I have never spoken to on the other side of my street, lit with the lurid orange-grey pallor of what passes for a street light. Doors locked and bolted in pure metaphor. There is a deathly weight to things and as it stales the air I am resigned to the fact that tonight I will not sleep. Details are lost and forms are ill defined on either side of the window pane, blurred into a background that is both miles and inches away at the same time. The street an under water version of its day time self. I try to feel the same way.

For a large portion of my twenties I was stricken by fanciful ideas about faking my own death. Not constantly, it happened in waves. I was unhappy with my job and probably at the end of some wilting toy-romance that I no longer had the energy to terminate and the cyclic misery was sapping my spirit. The point to the plot, of course, was not the dying but the living, starting anew elsewhere as somebody else and leaving my entire tedious life behind me. Tabula rasa.

I would park my car up; abandon it off some lonely desolate country road, a deliberate illustration so the bereaved could really grasp my state of mind. Door flung open as though my exit were hurried and careless, money and documents blowing in the wind, a lost suicide with no note. I’d have headed north. I fantasised about working on a farm in Scotland. Something about the supposed simplicity of the land. The lack of responsibility in the face of the elements. I don’t know why it was Scotland in particular; it wasn’t anywhere I’d actually been. Maybe it didn’t even matter. When I finally died for real I wanted it to be on a mountain in India with no one around. The “no one around” was especially important. The snag being that I would’ve been there. I never go away.

There is a void in people that cannot be filled and the futility of our attempts is comedic when viewed from the correct angle. Tragic when lived from the wrong angle. I seldom meet anyone who acknowledges this. Even less those who know they are running, never those that know what they’re running from.

I see now that there was a part of me in those days that did not want to be me at all. An odd thing to imagine I suppose, this mini version of you in your head that is constantly annoyed at everything you do and wants out but cannot leave. Who is that? What am I doing to drive us apart? If I only knew how to listen to him. You see I don’t want to die or to run anymore, I want to hear. But he communicates only in sensations and that is a language that I have forgotten how to speak. What I can say for sure, is those sensations that were once borne of adolescent frustration and fear now manifest as the quiet mature introspections of an insomniac. Age has forged a cosy familiarity between us through all these long dark hours, some sort of intimacy, albeit back to back. A tacit coercion at best. I use our time together to quell the motion in my mind, to stem the tide, to mutely measure our comings and goings against the stoicism of the stars. Waiting for a hint of understanding. Wanting to work it all out for myself. To stop running. To fill the void. To start again.

The night is still as a mill pond and I suspect it harbours the same forlorn depths.

by Chris
Posted in Words

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