Sleep
A Short Story by Alice Clark
Written using the suggestion "Mars"
Originally featured on 03-27-2009
As part of our series "Where the Wild Words Are (Words Gone Wild!)"

When he was a young man, he hid under the sheets for too long. They smelled of mildew and his own skin. He’d use them for the darkness and for the skin contact. They held him in.

He dreamt often of demons and often had the feeling of being hit with a blunt object, which would wake him up gasping. Sometimes it would be as if a baseball bat had hit his skull, other times a hatchet to his eye socket. That initial feeling of shock moved his stomach and he avoided sleep to avoid it.

His mother sat on the edge of the bed and told him that Jesus would be with him, that he could wear the wooden cross necklace and have the Bible under his pillow. She prayed over his head and he choked tears because he was sad for her and because he knew they would come anyway. That he didn’t get to choose what God had for him. Her hope for him told him that she wasn’t safe either.

He dreamt there was a boy spirit that moved between bodies as grey ash. The boy moved into his siblings and they crumbled to the ground. At three a.m. he woke with tremors. There was so much sweat in the bed. In his body’s desperation, still in confusion, he fell back asleep, feeling the ash.

There was the idea of the young man running, climbing high in a closet. A man with the arms of a titan reached through several levels and shelves to catch him, and put one finger into his eye socket. Moving the pink flesh under the young man’s eyelid. He threw up on his sheets. The glowing planets overhead, Mars and Venus, mocked him for his inability to live in bigger things. To reach the things in his dreams.

His mother called him to breakfast, and he leaned forward deeply into his Honeycomb. Now an older young man, letting his lower lip rest on the bowl as his eyes glazed and drool dripped slowly.

Read More By Alice Clark

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Portland Fiction Project

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