People, real people, like the ones you may come across on the street or at the mall or who you find sitting in a group but visibly distracted and out of it, change differently. At least, they do not change like how Dr. Jekyll transforms or how Eustace Scrubb did. And surely, their change is not as conceited as it is for Dorian Grey. Most change is never even visible to those going through it. And seldom do the others notice, but they take note. I reckon it is especially when said change inconveniences them. In any case, people do not change as quickly. Maybe, they change like Nick Adams did after getting his heart broken. But even then, it is rarely as perfect. Why the sudden remembrance of these stories I have read? I do not know. But as the melatonin started to kick in, I could only think of stories and how, at one point, it was not some tablet but the stories that put me to sleep. Now, I lie awake for hours sometimes. What do I do in these hours of mild insomnia? Most nights, I stare at the ceiling, and if lying down feels too prone, I get up to stare at the wall, the paintings I have in my room or the time. Thoughts zoom from all corners of life and memory, and I count them like I would count sheep.
To be fair, falling asleep is easy. All I have to do is watch my heart carefully, to rein it in like you would a mule—its eyes focused only on where it should be heading. That is how it has been for many years. I do not let my heart stroll and stray, not even a little bit. There was a time when I would let it wander like a puppy until it dragged me to what it found. But gone are those days, and there was no transformation in the middle of the night. I have stayed awake enough to know if it would happen. And no spell has taught me my lessons by turning me into something garish. And if it had turned me into something hideous, I have no portrait hidden in the attic to hide it all.
And what of Nick lying awake with his heart in shambles? I could not say. My heart is a far cry from it. It is safe and protected like some relic in a museum.
“In safety, there is sleep,” says the plaque underneath it.
(Where is the sleep, then?)