By Insomniac Owl
Waking up like this, morning after morning and never knowing if he was really awake or not, was something odd, though easily forgotten. The first moments of his day took the same route his dreams did, images he recalled in brilliant pieces but was unable to remember how real they ever were. He could easily recall the first picture to fill his eyes every morning, however: a dusky room, gloomy and full of morning shadows, more often than not with a glass beside his bed, an extra pill beside it for his frequent lapses in sleep during the night.
He tended to blame his mornings on the insomnia he had suffered from since childhood (a blurred time no more realistic, it seemed, than his dreams). The light crept in, slowly filling his room until it was a brilliant gold and yet managing to leave him in a curious fog, drifting still in fantastic memories that couldn't possibly be real.
They were disturbing at times, though no more than real life. They did, however, inspire a panic in him that real life never managed to bring out. The sight of blank faces lacking features, or simply a dark room he'd seen a thousand times before and yet was somehow entirely new, made him freeze up. He ran sometimes, always down corridors with no doors or windows, and other times he woke with a start, caught in reality again. But his dreams weren't always nightmares. No, occasionally they were pleasant: fields of grass, church services he'd never been to, faces he hadn't seen in years laughing with delight. He had an uncanny ability to remember his dreams, not even needing to write them down as some people did. They seemed so real, in fact, that he often mistook them for actual events.
Just the other day he was listening to Temari and Kankurou talk (he'd forgotten the subject, now), sitting across the room near the kitchen window. It was cloudy that day, and an image came to his mind: a picnic they had, on a day like this where Temari bought caviar and no one liked it. He found himself relating this to his siblings, reliving it in pieces until the whole event unfolded in his mind, real as could be.
It was only when he looked over at Temari, staring at him from behind the kitchen table, that he realized something was wrong. He'd kept silent for a moment, waiting, then said in a hesitant voice: "What?"
"Gaara," Temari said, "what are you talking about?"
He paused, unsure. "I -"
"We never had a picnic," Kankurou cut in, harshly enough that Temari winced. "And I like caviar."
Gaara had stared back at them for a while longer, wondering if they might be playing a trick on him (though they'd never done that before. They were quiet around him, and careful, as if they thought he was a fragile thing, easily frightened), and then looked away.
And sometimes things would be different, but only in a subtle, unnerving way. (These instances were the most disconcerting, too). A key wouldn't work when it had for the past five years, and he would stand there, trying to force it until Kankurou elbowed him aside and used the car keys to open the front door. Curtains would be the wrong color (yellow instead of white), or knobs on the stove would mysteriously switch places. When he mentioned any of these things to his siblings (though he had stopped doing so years ago, when they gave him concerned looks and Temari began crying silently into her hands) they would say that things had always been that way.
(A dream, he wondered? Or was he simply going insane?)
There were pills stacked to the top shelf of his medicine cabinet, and though he loathed them (they made him feel needy, weak, as if he could no longer rely on himself - and could he really?) he could never go to sleep without taking a few. Temari had found them one day (or he thought she had, maybe she hadn't really at all, maybe he'd dreamed the whole thing up), and cornered him in his bedroom.
"Gaara," she said, "Can I ask you something?" He had been lying on his bed, eyes closed and two sleeping pills in his stomach, but he sat up and listened. "I was looking to see if you had any razors, because all mine were gone and I didn't feel like going to the store."
Here Gaara remembered thinking how funny it was that she had to explain herself.
"I saw all those pills you have, Gaara. Where did you get them all? What are you using them for? I… I think - Gaara, please!"
He had been drifting off to sleep again, unable to hold his eyes open against the drugs in his system. The fan rocked above him, threatening to tear itself from the ceiling and fall, still spinning, to the ground. "They're only sleeping pills Temari," he muttered. Later, he could never remember her leaving. He could never remember falling asleep at all.
It was getting difficult to decipher reality anymore, and he was finding less and less of the willpower to try. It was maddening, actually, to sift through his memories and not know which to believe, if he'd gotten the scar on his forehead from falling in the sandbox when he was young, or if he'd been shoved into a window (sharp glass, his uncle's face and a bright pain), or if he'd done it himself, as he vaguely recalled. A cold, smooth knife, and the only time he could ever (think he) remember(ed) bleeding.
He kept quiet around other people.
Night after night as he swallowed pills in front of his bathroom mirror, listening to Kankurou's music bleed through the walls, Temari's tentative 'goodnight' from the doorway he couldn't see, he came to believe he had simply gone insane.
(He hoped he wasn't going insane. These headaches he got, sometimes….)
Another glass, another pill.