Bring me a candle to light me to bed. Bring me some moondust to weigh down my lashes. Bring me an axe to sever my head. Bring me a soft wind to scatter my ashes. Maslow described our basic needs, triangulated levels of control. Food, water, shelter, love, knowledge. When I raise a forkful, I picture choking alone; banging on neighbour's doors, collapsing in on myself like an old star. When I shower, my lightbulb flickers and I can't tell immediately if I blinked too long or if I'm having a stroke. Sometimes the light dies; the water beats down as I struggle to push the curtain aside in darkness, to prepare for grabbing hands, for the sudden kiss of my own kitchen knives. The worst one: there's a disease called fatal familial insomnia, which usually begins with a mild case. The sufferer may live for years without knowing, until their quality of sleep begins to worsen. Eventually, they stop sleeping at all. Death follows like a faithless cat. It runs in families - only a few are known, but my feverish research shows it's possible to develop this disease as a mutant corruption of my own body. Randomised, at an atomic level. Do I belong to this small, restless herd? At 2am, I brush it off; at 4am it's not only plausible, it's all but guaranteed. Instead of sheep, I count the number of times I've lain awake, wondering if this will be the last night of the rest of my life. Bring me a candle to light me to bed. Bring me some moondust to weigh down my lashes. Bring me an axe to sever my head. Bring me a soft wind to scatter my ashes.
Lindz McLeod's short stories have been published by the Scotsman newspaper, the Scottish Book Trust, 365 Tomorrows, and more. She has published poetry with Allegory Ridge, Hellebore, Grain Magazine, and more. She is represented by Headwater Literary Management.