This is that time between sleep and wakefulness. It probably has a name but I call it the doldrums. Four-forty in the morning, most of the world asleep, you lie with your eyes open in bed while you partner dreams of travel or shopping or things more exotic, beside you.
In the doldrums you want to sleep. You are tired, certainly tired enough to sleep. But it will not come back. You are too tired to think properly and to get out of bed is to admit defeat. So you sit up and try to go back to sleep.
After sitting for long, long minutes you begin to realise that sleep is not coming back, your slowly waking brain has decided you have had enough sleep for now. Now, the gentlest of battles begins but do not be fooled, this is a battle for domination of your mind and you are just there for the ride at this point.
Thoughts pop up, random at first then bit-by-bit, more connected. The conscious begins to win the battle and now you see what you do not want to see, you are awake and sleep is gone.
What to do? Stay in bed, sat up and thinking, knowing that your partner, while deeply asleep, senses that your states are not in sync? Her voice drifts out of sleep, “Are you ok?” You reply as softly as you can, “Yes, just can’t sleep. Don’t worry.” “OK”, she says, her voice drifting off.
Now, there is nothing else to do. You get up.
Everything is dark and so quiet. Bird sounds drift in and that eerie, doppler effect of occasional car sounds coming and going by on the road twenty-one floors below.
It is too early to begin work, to write the final draft you really must write. You know you must but you are at that crucial, difficult point between doing and done. But this requires critical thought and now, at this time, at four-forty in the morning, this is not that time.
And this is the result. A little piece, a quick four hundred words or so about being awake when you don’t want to be awake. It’s funny, the instinct of the writer is to write even when writing is the last thing you feel like doing. And the perversity of the writer is to want to share it, to inflict it on others, in the sure and certain belief that someone will identify with this poor, sleepless, individual, all alone in the still darkness. Maybe they will. Maybe you do. Maybe you have been in exactly this situation and you are smiling a wry smile and thinking, “yeah, I’ve been there.”
It is now 5:17am, I am sleepy without the prospect of sleep, birds without any knowledge of or irony for social media, and in anticipation of the new day, are twittering, and the light is coming up.
So. Welcome to the doldrums.