Sleep is a toss and a turn and a sliver of nonsense beneath the nighttime sky. It is an invitation and a warning like all the best things that you fall into. Yet, it alludes me, despite the hourglasses of currency left behind by the Sandman—each enough to fill a bag, dark and puffy, set to hold beneath the levees of my red, tired eyes.
I woke from nothing. The pain was where I left it, awake and angry, and taunting the bed. The hardest part of the day was putting one foot down and then waiting on the other, for that was where the fury feasted on little piggies like so much roast beef (of which I had none).
Gout, they say, is one of the most painful things that a person can experience. I do not know if that is true, for I have seen suffering that makes me ashamed to mention my own, but this is the pain in my shoes, and I must walk the miles in them.
Note, the medication hasn’t failed me, rather, my body has failed it. It is the work of bigger things, a stomach squeezed shut and an esophagus that no longer cares. They have conspired and denied me the means to keep the gout at bay. They have scorched me like a desert, dry and burning, and slowly covered by salt and sand.
The mounting dehydration works as a trigger, and the foot fires like a gun, each step a ricochet, each footprint a crime scene. I am always limping somewhere.
There is a mirror in the hallway. It is a funhouse, bending my reflection and rendering me a specter, allowing me to view the man that lives in there. He has a wild beard and less pounds than cents, and really no sense to speak of. He is dry-eyed and too skinny, an apparition mocking me, daring me to give up: It is enough, he says. Hope is for the healthy and the well-rested. Sit here and shrivel, your feet are too swollen and the only thirst you’ll quench is in the dreams that escape you. Sit here, and let us watch each other slowly fall and fastly fade. To which I graciously refuse, four letters at a time.
Then we each nod to the other and carry on again. He goes where I know not, and I chase the things of daydreams—for I take what I may have, and there is much to be said for a smile in the sunshine and a warm promise of the morrow.
It is nonsense, too, but it gives me something that I can laugh at.