Mind occupied, heart racing, eyes darting, and yet your body feels an exhaustion that cannot be contained or explained without making the ache in your muscles beat harder and harder against your skin. A movement escapes your legs, despite your attempt to hold still, despite your attempts to relax your limbs and force an empty mind. But not tonight, not now, will the rest come. The rest evades all attempts to be achieved through meditation and medication. The rest refuses to submit and become one with your mind and body. You lay awake.

The ceiling fan. It hums above you. A monotonous noise: one that would lull most infants and young children into a state of sleep, but not you. It is a distraction. Your eyes focus upon it. The room is too warm to survive without the constant whirling, but you are too distracted by the sight and sound to take advantage of the cool air rhythmically pushing against your body.

The humidifier. An unavoidable bright light streams from the body of the contraption. You have tried to cover the “on switch” with tape, but the bulb wattage is stronger than your attempts. You roll to your side, facing away from the harsh, blinding light, but to no avail. For the light shines onto the wall now opposite your eyes. Do you dare to shut it off, and deal with the consequences of a deep cough and dry skin?

The basketball court. It is three o’clock in the morning. You understand that school is expensive, and scholarship is your claim to life, but do they dare shoot hoops at this hour? Do they dare yell and scream at the “skins”? Practice may make perfect, but, please, you beg them, not outside your window.

The roommate. Seven AM is a time for morning people. Your nocturnal mind keeps you from ever being a citizen of the early morn. Her feet pad across the hall outside your door. The microwave beeps. She makes oatmeal. You hear the ripping of the paper packaging and a rush of water from the sink. Your mind races, praying to one day feel the way she feels. So rested, a morning routine is just that, a routine, instead your normal course of obstacles.

The fantasy. The worst of all distractions lies within your own skull. Your brain tells you stories. The most interesting stories you will ever hear. Your thoughts and dreams run by you in perfect color and clarity. You reach a road sign, a writer’s block, and you must turn back in your tale. Your mind works to start over, go back to the beginning and rewrite. You plan out your life, your future, your romance, and before you know it, the dream, the fantasy, has taken up all your precious hours of rest.

The alarm. You lay awake and hear the screeching of the sound that haunts most student’s REM cycles. They dream in wait for the moment the clock chimes and awakens them from their dreams; but not for you. The red lights of the beast have been staring into your skull for the past hours. You have become close friends by now, and the ringing so close to your ears is just its reminder that your night together has ended. You must break your eye-contact with the monster and give up on your hopes of rest for the night. It is time to start your obstacle course for the day.

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