For some reason, I tend to fall asleep better on the couch than I do my own bed. Insomnia is weird like that and still remains a mystery to me.
Last night, though, my migration didn't provide the relief that usually comes. I was just as restless downstairs as I was in my bedroom. No matter how hard I tried to force myself to sleep, I wasn't slipping out of consciousness into lovely slumber.
Instead, I lay there staring at the chandelier hanging from the ceiling as the flame from the fireplace illuminated the upper half of the room, casting a shadow on anything below an ever-chaning, amorphous line.
Silent, gaze locked on the gently swaying fixture, I remained prone on the sofa as what little heat the stove emitted just barely caressed my face as its essence reached out toward me. The flames, like tendrils or ivy, rose from the wood burning below and climbed along every inch of the surrounding stone. Reflections of flickering light patterns fleeted across the glass windows, casting orange brilliance for immensely small moments – one right after another after another – like a gun, slinging luminous lead. The comforter over me appeared to be waves of ember that gave rise with breath, inevitably falling with expulsion. I remained like this for hours. The clock on the kitchen stove across from me changed every minute with an infinity between switches. The neon-green numbers were the only thing helping the fire's brilliance (that hardly extended so far) to cut through the darkness.
From beyond the crown of my head – out of the corner of my eye and in the hallway – I could just barely make out the shadow moving along the ceiling, in synchronicity with the licking flames several feet away. It almost would have gone unnoticed by me had it not been for the sudden rise in flames, turning the shadow white and, for a short instant, bathing it in a glow that did nothing to give any more detail to the indiscernable blur. Just a blob of white light. Almost like a hazy reflection or a photo taken while moving – irreparably out-of-focus.
The episode went by too fast to fully register. For all I knew, it was the flames reflecting off the glass of the hall light and onto the ceiling. And besides, I was finally feeling the soft numbness of sleep begin to come over me while I was bathed in the pale glow of the fire. I really could not have cared any less than I did at that moment.
I exhaled deeply and closed my eyes for only a moment when the rain started to come down, pattering on the darkened window behind me. The thunder had been as distant as the clouds when I'd made my way downstairs. Crawling along the sky – unmoved and unhurried – the front had finally made its way over my home, bathing the house with water from lakes and ponds and streams that lay dormant many miles away. The faint yet pleasantly-pungent smell of ozone wafted through windows that were cracked open just enough to let the cool night air seep in – exorcising the room and elevating it of the oppressive summer heat that had stifled the house during the day.
The thunder, while it had grown louder than it was far off into the distance, was still nothing close to intolerable. The deep rumbling had, in fact, started to work with the waving flames and the gentle applause of the rain in a tangent effort to sedate me.
The tame storm remained unaccompanied by harsh lightning.
As I began to nod off, a faint sliding – mostly concealed by the constant, drum-like precipitation outside, became noticable. I thought nothing of it as I passed the sound off as a car moving down the road. Seconds had gone by when the sharp sound ceased without the ray of headlights to signify the passing of a car. There was also no crescendo and dimminuendo leading up to and ushering away the moment of when the automobile should have moved beyond the house.
In that moment, I also noticed that my face was getting wet. Slightly. The rain was not coming down any harder than it had been only moments before, but the wind had shifted and now the rain came through the window at an angle. It bounced off the sill and onto my cheek.
The wind shifted again and there was no longer anything falling onto my face (and what was there had not been anything significant enough to not immediately evaporate). Which is a shame. It was a rather soothing sensation.
I was finally on the verge of falling asleep. With my eyes closed, I felt distant. I could perceive every nanometer of space between my head and my feet and between myself and the walls around me. I felt a floating sensation and my thoughts lulled and swam around listlessly. My body was separating from my own consciousness.
With only seconds before I fell asleep, I forced myself into a slightly more comfortable position. I forced myself to open my eyes. I did all this without compromising my position.
Without reason I looked down.
With increasingly heavy eyes, I glanced upon a lock of grey hair and a white, wrinkled hand – frail with age and with large, dark blue veins testifying to their ancient nature – quickly moving under the couch just before falling into the black pits of dreamless sleep.