Be Like Ike, or Don't
By William Eichler
Ike’s bed is an abusive relationship. It holds him down, it keeps him away. Each day begins with a long look at the snooze button like staring at a room full of balloons that have slowly started falling from the ceiling. Colors drift downward until they are only light again when they are pushed.
God, just get out of bed already.
He wakes up to the smell of laundry begging for the wash, laundry that is overflowing and looks like it could be hiding something even though it isn’t. He just hasn’t done his laundry in a while. He showers with a towel that hasn’t fully dried, because why does it really matter? It’s his towel. He barely notices that it’s still wet when he uses it, seeing as he’s dripping. He likes to pretend he’s melting, dissolving, something like that.
He makes his way down the stairs of his apartment, each step heaving a gray sigh and bending slightly as he falls with purpose. The air touches his skin, warm, but warm in that way that the air is after it’s been cold for days—like that shade of orange that fades into blue when the sun is coming up. Ike skips through songs on shuffle until he just lets something play on the way to wherever he’s going and the sounds fill the space between his ears, occupying the space left vacant after he evicted the thoughts of other days with older versions of people he used to like. He still likes this song, though.
The world is still in the throes of morning and Ike sees a past version of himself walking a different way with a different person by his side, but right now he is accompanied by the emptiest air the world has to offer. He walks with this companion to the afternoon that has been waiting with a bowl of chicken ramen and a game controller that fits in his hand like a knight’s sword forged just for him, even though the closest he’s ever been to knight was sundown. He sinks into the couch like it’s the ocean he hasn’t seen in months, and thinks maybe he’ll just disappear this time. He mutters thanks under his breath to the room for letting him try and the empty space doesn’t answer. In the quiet, Ike can hear his bed scream and beat its chest, but Ike ignores the sounds of his resting place.
Tomorrow Ike will wake up and wrestle with his bed again and inevitably win because his bed might be Hypnos but Hypnos is nothing compared to the god’s twin, and Ike will leave that gray he’s raised all around himself so he can walk back out into the orange and maybe finally get a bit of yellow in his life.
Editor's note: In Greek mythology, Hypnos is a deity that personifies sleep.