From the Journal of the Great Leader | Age 9

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March 18th, 2022

Sometimes I practice dying, but not the serious kind. I close my eyes and do it slow and see how long I can last before taking in another breath. I’ll even make a sound like it’s the last life in me. Just a dead kid with dead eyes and a dead face. It’s one of the things I do before bed if I can’t sleep right away. I put off breathing as long as I possibly can and then poof. The first breath back in is always so urgent. Such a heavy heave and gasp for air. Impossible to slow. It’s not like I’m just going to let myself stop breathing. What’s the rush? I don’t know why I get so panicked about some things. Especially breathing. Why does even breathing worry me?

Tonight my eyes are heavy and the bed is cold. My feet are too. That’s why I usually wear socks to sleep, but not after the latest video of Underwater Clementine. One of my favorite characters laughed at another one for wearing his socks to sleep – so I stopped doing it. Sometimes I think about putting them back on, and I know it’s stupid that I don’t. For reasons I can’t fully explain, I can’t wear socks to bed anymore. I still definitely wear them when I go out into the world and school and stuff. It’s just my bed isn’t a place for socks anymore.

I sort of feel bad for socks now, like I abandoned them and don’t deserve to wear them again. I wish I could just apologize to some sort of council of socks and have them understand that it’s out of my control. I think that if I could do that then maybe I wouldn’t feel so bad about not wearing them anymore. Maybe if I did, I’d get to wear them again.

I love to sing to myself before falling asleep too. I can’t help it some nights. When I think about the other kids in fourth grade, I can’t see them singing to themselves. It’s not any real song that you’d hear on the radio – and definitely not like one of mom’s woo woo songs in Sanskrit – which I can’t understand. Even if I knew how to speak Sanskrit, I don’t think I’d suddenly like the music she plays during her astrology readings and yoga classes. I usually sing about the things I’m thinking about, like:

My sockless feet are cold

And the mold inside my bones

Needs some soap

Soapy dopey dope dope

Most of my songs end in some sort of nonsense. Sometimes you just have to give up on the words to get where you really want to go. Maybe that’s why mom likes that woo woo stuff. I’m pretty sure she also has no idea what they say in those songs. Maybe that’s why they’re nice to listen to.

Mom insists on a bedtime for me, and I usually don’t fight her on it, but it makes nights like these difficult. I enjoy being around my plants and all, but I can only talk to them so much before the conversation dries out like some parched desert mulch. Don’t get me wrong, these plants are the only ones who really get me. Without them, I’d just be a boy with no friends. They just really know how to listen.

I take Purple with me everywhere I go. I’d take my other plants too, but they just aren’t as easy to carry around. Purple is a carrot I’ve had for as long as I can remember. Mom thinks he’s petrified and that he’s some sort of mummy of a carrot. But Purple and I talk all the time, and he says he’s a fully functional carrot. I told him I’d never eat him, and that I definitely wouldn’t let anyone else eat him either.

I don’t really share my songs with anyone but my plants. Mom said she heard me singing once when I came downstairs for breakfast. I didn’t sing for a whole month after that, and even now I try to do it in more of a whisper. I don’t know why it bothered me so much. Singing is for plants I guess, not people.

I keep Purple on my nightstand in an orange cup I’ve had since I was three. It’s one of those plastic cups where the rim is worn from all the times I’ve used it. I can’t drink out of it anymore without getting bits of plastic on my tongue. Purple said that he was getting sore sleeping on his side, so when I tried out the cup it seemed like a good home for them both. Apparently carrots like to stand upright if they can help it.

I’m tired enough to sleep now. But I’m going to try to not think about it because if I think too much about how I’m ready to sleep, then I probably won’t be able to. I don’t know why it works like that, but it does.

Just before I got into bed, someone on YouTube said something about dust bunnies under her couch. And when I opened up a new tab and searched what those were, I found out that they’re just these little wads of dust. That they look nothing like actual bunnies. Then I found a channel that does funny skits where people take these wads of dust and shape them into funny-looking bunnies. They gave them raisins for eyes. Each bunny had these high-pitched voices, like maybe what whales would sound like if they sucked in a bunch of helium.

I’m not really sure where helium comes from. I know mom brought some home to the apartment to blow up balloons for my sixth birthday, but where does it grow? How is it lighter than air? I’m a balloon, lifting into the clouds. I’m somewhere between sleep and life. Dust bunnies hop from cloud to cloud, and I’m somewhere inside one of their furs.

***

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