383-word short story: Sleep


The water woke her again.

The sleeping pills were a poison that had done something to her mind. Deep depression and panic attacks that seemed to literally clutch her heart. Maybe it had done something more, too.

So the quit them. For the first 72 hours, she couldn't sleep at all although she tried. Then her depression went away but was replaced by a morbid fear of the death she had so recently longed for.

Endless nights, endless days, endless thoughts. Too many thoughts.

Now she didn't want to sleep. It seemed too close to death, but it was so hard not to. She fell in the water again. It took her longer to come back.

Thoughts about death.

I'm not the same woman I was an hour ago, she thought. I learn and think and change every second. Time has moved on never to turn back. The Earth has moved thousands of miles in its course around the sun, the solar system millions of miles in its course around the galaxy.

So is the woman of one hour ago dead?

Am I dead?

Her sleepiness scattered like foggy shreds and she became fully alert. It hurt. She relaxed and the sleepiness flooded back. No, it's the continuity, she reminded herself. Life is continuity. Sleep interrupts that continuity because consciousness leaves the body. When I go to sleep I die. When I wake up, I'm a new person, come to life for the first time. A new person with the same body and the same memories, but a new consciousness, because when I sleep I die. I don't want to die, but when I sleep I die. I don't want to die, but when I sleep…

She woke up coughing and choking.

Scientists study sleep deprivation in rats by the disk-over-water method. A rat is placed on a raised platform in a bucket of water. It can rest on the platform, but if it sleeps, it falls in the water and awakens.

She had a pool. She made a platform.

More days and nights.

If I fall asleep, I'll drown, she thought, But it's okay. It's okay, it's okay, it's okay. To sleep was to die anyway. Death was sleep. Sleep was death. Sleep....

She lasted nine days on the platform.

Then she slept. Pin It Now!

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