Most of the sleepless nights were no different from each other, but the thoughts were never the same. He didn’t toss and turn anymore, since he knew that would be of no help – now he would just tuck his hands behind his head and turn his eyes to the moonlit ceiling decorated with glow in the dark rockets and starts put there around ten years ago. Cough medicine, natural sleeping hormone enhancing pills, bedtime teas, nothing helped… Almost every time he would rest his head on the pillow he would just slowly watch the night turn into day, greet the sun as it rose behind the close-by hills, or when he was lucky he would drift away a couple hours before his alarm clock rang only to be woken up and find out he was late again. He could not sleep… Not during the night, at least. Come mid or late afternoon his eyelids got heavy and his body ached for his comfortable bed, or really any place quiet enough for him to sleep, but he would fight the urge, telling himself he would just go to sleep early that night and finally get several hours of rest. Only that never worked – apparently the darker it got outside, the more active his mind would be, making it impossible for him to drift away.
And then when he would sleep, he would dream.
Dreams are said to have meanings, to predict the future or even provide some insight into past or future lives – humans have believed them to be many different things, but for him they were just annoying. The moments when he could finally shut down the constant flow of thoughts in his ever active head were tainted by vivid, confusing, abstract dreams of shapes and places and feelings be neither liked nor was interested in. The best yet rare nights of sleep were those where he didn’t dream at all.
Recently, conveniently enough, the reason for his increased frustration with his body’s apparent lack of necessity to rest was having the same dream over and over, night after night saved the ones where the sleeping medicine got the best out of him after one or two days of being awake. The moving lights that suggested a train station – maybe a subway station, since they seemed yellowish and bright against a dark background – and the echo of his footsteps on hard floor would go on for a long time until he reached a still light and the cease of footstep sounds. Then he would see a face, a smile, fingers reaching and then darkness. And his consciousness, in the dark, until he realized he was awake.
It wasn’t until that very night, thinking all these thoughts while staring at a spot of light on the ceiling, that he realized there was more to the face – he could tell bright eyes, and the smile was a laughter. Even though he felt nothing like laughing himself. Of course, he didn’t. He knew the face too well. It was too familiar to be missed when every single detail was permanently, or so it seemed, burned in the back of his eyes. His consciousness might forget, but his mind never would. There she was, yet again, haunting – and hunting – him.