I knew (and still know) three sisters who were also problems. The first was the condition made it practically impossible to explain the nature of the condition to others, and as our eloquence is the measure of the depth of our convictions this made the others consider me a liar, and a likely abuser of prescription pharmaceuticals. These statements are true, and I told them they were right, but this was a different thing, and not like the other thing, and being a different thing I felt like it deserved different responses. This was the second, and I knew it was a mistake; the best argument for public school is learning how to negotiate bureauracy with minimal attention and effort, so I knew being honest wasn't helping my case, but again, I wasn't lucid enough to properly navigate this situation. I am a thing which requires medical attention in order to sleep, and without sleep this is a thing which will only become more so in its current status and not improved but deproved and you should be able to recognize what I am saying is accurate at this time, I said, and stared at them, waiting for an answer. The third, and the most persistent of the three, is the conviction at the beginning and in fits throughout the visitation that the problems are not problems at all, but potentialities, gates for a kind of transformation into greatness if only I could sit with the three sisters and understand what they were whispering into me (not through the ears, but through the ribcage, and the back of the head, and sometimes through the palms of my hands), and I would think yes, if I follow this road all the way to the end it will become clear, and all this obfuscation will fall away from me, each though instantly transmuted into its intended action, so after about five minutes of trying to convince these people of my situation I'd realize what a mistake it had been to come here, and walk out the door for another week or so, but I am not really a person so much as I am a thing which is three things (like Stevens, only with sisters who are also problems) I would return again and try to convince them one more time, but instead of those people I would see other people, thinking eventually someone would be able to help me, as these days I have difficulty sleeping.
When I was ten years old I decided I was no longer going to sleep in my bed. It seemed the most ridiculous kind of conformity and effeteness to sleep in a bed just because that's what you're supposed to do, and I decided that instead I would begin an adventure in discovering long-forgotten areas for sleep which would not only be more comfortable, but would lead to greater dreams unshackled by the timidity of bed-sleep. This was the summer, so I slept outside, behind the garage, or occasionally in the hollow of a tree trunk out by the fields (which is where I discovered I am not so much one thing as three sisters who are also problems), and as it grew colder I explored various closets and hallways, anywhere where I was unlikely to be disturbed. This continued on through my high school years and into college, where I had my bunk removed to the amusement of my roommate and took to sleeping in the steam tunnels, or at the library. It was there that I awoke one morning to find someone curled up behind me, their arm across my chest, and this is how I met Aria, who had likewise cast off her mattress shackles. Aria and I spent the next few years sleeping in different areas, particularly in the attics of various buildings on campus, and while we were generally taken to be a couple we were never (I should say rarely, if I was concerned about being honest) sexually intimate; this was a different type of intimacy, which most people never have the opportunity to explore within a standard relationship. Likewise, we did not share our fundamental secrets with each other, nor engage in endless conversations about everything and nothing by which two people become defined and joined. Mostly we talked about our dreams, our literal dreams. For a while Aria went out with a guy from her App of Quantum Mechanics class, and so we fell apart for a while, and I went back to sleeping alone, only to find her curled up beside me a couple months later. As we were great explorers of sleep, it made sense that we would separate for a time and explore avenues where the other could not follow, then return to each other, sharing data and hypotheses.
Being the laziest kind of academics, neither Aria nor I felt much desire to leave town after graduation, and so she went into teaching while I pretended to write a novel. Two years later Aria married a man named Karl, and so for a while I did not see her, but then once every month or so I would see her sleeping in one of our High Dream Quotient Areas, or she would find me asleep in a small garden behind the English building, and we'd spend the night together. Aria began by sneaking out, very carefully, but as with many things her diligence diminished until Karl found the two of us on that small island in the pond by the Union, but after hours of conversation (and occasional yelling, and crying, and silences) Karl apparently decided this was something he could live with, but he was afraid of Aria sleeping "in the street", and so he said we could continue to do this so long as we did it in their home, and so I moved in with Aria and Karl. As you can imagine, this became complicated very quickly, and soon we were back to sleeping in the wild, and I guess Karl just decided to forget about it.
Eventually I tricked Sarah into marrying me, and so Aria and I hit another distant spell. I had explained my sleeping situation to Sarah early in our relationship, and she thought it would be a good bonding experience if we went out and slept together, by which I actually mean "slept together" in the colloquial sense, and that part was excellent, but Sarah never took to the actual dreaming part very well as she could never get comfortable, and soon enough we stopped this plan entirely. As for my occasional nights away with Aria, Sarah joked that it was good to have me out of the house for a while, only this wasn't really a joke no matter how many times I pretended to laugh. The last time I saw Aria, both of us now in our mid-thirties, I told her our research had stagnated, that we had stayed in the same place too long, and there were so many new lands where unimagined dream opportunities awaited us. Aria asked her if I proposed the two us run away together, and I said yes, that's exactly right, and she said she'd think about it, but when I awoke the next morning she was gone, and I've never seen her since. Now I sleep in a bed, with quilts and covers and medications, and I do not dream so much as remember.
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