“I’m so tired. I’m desperate for a holiday.”

“You think you’re tired? I’m so tired my eyes feel like refrigerated plums. I need a holiday so badly, my many rashes present as tan. At work I pick up the phone and forget my name. I yawn at gale force three.”

“That’s nothing. I couldn’t work out how to click the box saying ‘I’m not a robot’ yesterday, then wondered if maybe I’d become one. My humanness is debatable. I’m so tired that the air around my fingertips is thick soup, and when I move my hands it’s like I’m swimming, badly.”

“Hmm, yeah, I have that, but not soup, gel-like, toothpaste, like, my limbs are coated with something that hardens and cracks as I walk. I’m so tired it, feels like I’m wearing magnetic eyelashes.”

“I’m more tired than that. I’m so tired that when I try and talk a sound comes out like a 90s modem, just a load of jelly and static, and I have to swallow a number of times to restart my throat and allow the words to come.”

“Oh, you try and talk? Wow, good for you. I’m far too tired to talk. Instead, if I need to communicate, I perform a gentle beast-like mime, or whisper it into a nearby piece of technology.”

“I’m so tired I misread headlines to comic effect, but don’t have the energy to tell anybody about my witty mistake, thereby wasting one of the few true opportunities to connect with my family. I’m so tired that all I can eat are moistened biscuits, with very pale tea.”

“Eat? I haven’t eaten properly in days. Too tired. Just sandwich spread and crusts. I have a flannel beside my chair that I dip in Ribena, and ask passing strangers to wring into my mouth. I’m so tired that my tongue is confused enough to allow each of these drips to taste like a full meal – tomato salad, ketchup, cherry pie, anything as long as it’s red. The colour of stress.”

“At 4am I scroll through the last-minute holiday offers, and zoom in on the sunlit joy on young men’s faces, and yearn for a release from this island of fatigue.”

“I do the same, and I am tireder than you. My work is both stressful and physical, and requires emotional violence just to get to five o’clock. My family ditto.”

“I read novels in order to sleep, but instead they fill me with dystopian dreads, and I am plunged into new baths of wakefulness.”

“Every hour I look at the clock, and try and trick myself to sleep, but I am cleverer than me, so it’s yet to work.”

“My body’s so tired that it’s forgotten how to sleep, and I lie in bed composing long emails to supermarkets about plastic waste.”

“In the morning I find poetry on my phone, quite beautiful compositions, occasionally in Tagalog. I have a constant hangover, despite having given up drinking alcohol – instead it feels like I’ve drunk too many strangers’ problems.”

“I try, I try. My sleep hygiene is so good that you could eat your dinner off it. I plug my phone in downstairs, and retreat to a room so minimal it looks like heaven in a 60s film.”

“My sheets are hotel-quality – a good hotel, none of your rubbish – so fine, so expensive, that to lie down on them is to feel like you’re floating through someone else’s dream. Feather pillows, baked fresh. And still, I’m tired. I’m the most tired.”

“You think? I’m so tired my nighttime routine plays tricks on me.”

“I have developed an allergy to my silk pillowcase, the smell of lavender now speaks only of toilets. I play white noise from 9pm, but am so tired that I hear music in it, music that calls me, that beckons me, that summons me up to reorganise my spice shelf alphabetically.”

“I need a holiday so badly that today I broke down and wept openly at the sound of seagulls. I’m so tired that my brain rattles around in my skull like a lost button.”

“I’m too tired for similes. I’m so tired that my hair is glass, my skin is sand, my muscles are cheese strings, my tongue is a pastie.”

“I’m so tired my body only exists as a vessel to carry around my exhaustion. Which is heavier than me.”

“I need a holiday, when I will wipe these ghosts off me like cobwebs, and remove this cardigan of despair, and unclasp underwear that contains a winter’s worth of bad decisions, and I will lie in dappled sunlight and finally sleep.”

“With jet lag? No chance.”

Email Eva at e.wiseman@observer.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @EvaWiseman


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