Sleep

A broken down and rusty Volkswagen Beetle in the South Australian desert
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The moon is full, insomnia is a bitch, and out here, there is no virus. Well, perhaps there is a virus.

But he wears my face.

The desert is eerie still in its elegance. I remember her moonlit skin against mine on that night by the lake; our shared desperation shielded us from the frigid lashes of the darkness. I remember another’s moonlit skin against mine, barely a week later, in the back of my van. Her desperation made me ill.

And now here I am, pining for neither. Pining for another. Pining for a future I’ll never see.

And I tell myself I’m one of the lucky ones.

But that’s a softly spoken lie we whisper to ourselves in the days we need to get by. It eases us through. But when the moon is so luminous that it streaks through the gaps in the curtains and rouses you from an uneasy slumber, you know the truth.

You’re just one of the slightly less unlucky ones. In the end, we all bleed the same.

There’s some sad and twisted part of me that hopes I do bleed out. On the sands and the dirt of the desert floor. The Red Continent is already so crimson with the blood of the innocent – it won’t notice one more insurrectionist.

I keep running. I’m running from one prison into the gaping jaws of another. A slow race to the bottom. But you can outrun your fate for only so long.

One day, I’d like a kid. And someone to love that kid with me. And I know I get neither. I know how this story ends: with a sad ending.

Viruses like me don’t get happy endings; they get vaccines. They get scorned and spurned, feared and loathed, right across the crimson sandstone expanses that run the east to west. They get told they’ll fail, and when they succeed, they get told they’re a sell-out.

It’s really important I make it home. There are people that miss me. There are people that call just to tell me they dreamt of me. I still have to chase this empty pipedream of love in a loveless world – the one we’ve been sold by men with nice ties and women in pencil skirts. Did they ever find love? I doubt it, but they didn’t have to become a fugitive to find it either.

All these things pull me home, and I miss home. But still…

On nights like this, when the moon is full and the air clings to my skin like plastic wrap, I think how maybe I don’t want to go home.

How maybe I could just go into the desert on one side and never come out the other. There’s a lot of space out there; they’d never find me, no matter how hard they looked. My virus-stricken bones and pathogen-laced hopes for a different life could just be picked apart by the buzzards. The rest of the me that I thought I was would melt away under the harshness of an unforgiving sun, and then there’d be nothing left.

Wouldn’t that be grand?

Maybe then, I could finally sleep.

A broken down and rusty Volkswagen Beetle in the South Australian desert
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