Dark Side of the Wall by Johnny Sanford

It’s been snowing for two weeks. New York City is under a cold blanket of whiteness. I wrote a “short story” a few years ago, prior to moving here, about a New York City under such a slushy snowy mess. Without further ado, here is “Dark Side of the Wall.”

The Dark Side of the Wall

What if love is just a chemical adaptation that man evolved strictly for procreation? What if love is just the product of our glands and the pheromones swirling around us as we walk and talk and make love? What if the only reason to be on this planet is to eat, sleep, fuck and die?
My mind wouldn’t stop asking these stupid questions. It was late again, past four in the morning. Too late to get a good nights sleep. I hadn’t had any sleep since my prescription ran out three weeks before. Though “good” wasn’t the best way to describe it with the pills; the medicine was like getting hit with a monkey wrench in the head and waking up six hours later feeling like there were cotton balls lining my esophagus and mouth. When they ran out, I decided that I would stop taking them for a while, with the idea that I might be inspired to write again. The drugs made me feel like I was in semi-permanent slow motion.
Now I knew I had to get the prescription renewed because I still hadn’t written anything, and as bad as it was, anything was better than trying to solve rhetorical questions at four in the morning. Trying to catch an idea to write about was like standing at the edge of a pond, feeding fish. The ideas would come in close, but as soon as I put my hand in to catch one and put it on paper, they would all dart into the deep recesses of my mind. Every once in a while I would manage to get one down, but it always seemed dull and dreary in comparison to when it was still in the water.
My eyes were closed and all I could see was black. I hated it. I imagined seeing the neurons flicker into the fleshy grey matter entombed within my skull. Not even the hypnotism tapes my doctor suggested were working. I was an insomniac.
Trying to count sheep was useless. My brain wouldn’t stop functioning. It felt as if my mind was a television that had been turned onto some unreceptive channel, but every once in while an unclear, nonsensical picture came through. Was that a boxing nun? It might’ve been. Sheepses and nuns were running through my brain. That is insomnia.
One common misconception about insomnia is that you don’t get any sleep. This isn’t entirely true, but the sleep you do get doesn’t feel like sleep. It feels like you’re sleeping with your eyes open, like goldfish do. The doctor said it was stress that caused it, but I wondered if it was something deeper.
I couldn’t quite remember exactly when I started having insomnia, but I knew it was soon after Octavia and I had broken up. That was six months before, but her presence lingered on like a stale ghost that lay beside me on my bed, haunting me. Where did it go wrong? I wondered. I still couldn’t figure it out. I couldn’t even bring myself to take down the pictures of her and me off the wall yet; I knew it would hurt too much. I liked being reminded every time I walked into my kitchenette that I too was once happy. Seeing proof of the walk in the park that one autumn day the year before when I bought her a giant Chinese dragon kite in China Town; how the red and orange monster flickered in the crisp wind like a flame about to go out. I remembered how she set the head of the kite on her own and I pretended to grapple with the beast eating my fair maiden.
She was taking courses in photography, but she wanted to be in the picture with me. She reluctantly handed her thousand dollar camera to another tourist and he took the picture. It felt like it was taken eons ago, in a different lifetime.

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