I just want to sleep. My body is heavy. My head and eyes are beginning to ache. I have a big day tomorrow. All I want is a few hours of respite. I need it. I deserve it. I work hard. I deserve a break.

But, Natalie Imbruglia disagrees.

Every time I close my eyes, she’s there. Screaming her siren’s song of angst and heartbreak. I get it, Natalie. You’re naked on the floor. Get over it. We’ve all been cheated on. We’ve all thought our partner was awesome when they were really just a douche. Get over it and get out of my head.

I look over at the clock. I haven’t seen 2 AM in years. I can almost cry I need to sleep so badly, but damn it if Natalie Imbruglia isn’t there, screaming about her sky being ripped apart. It isn’t even that good of a song.

I push myself out of bed. I’m clearly not going to get any sleep at this rate. I might as well be productive.

I stumble into the bathroom, doing my best to keep from singing along with the endlessly repeating chorus in my brain. I will not give her the satisfaction. I will not succumb.

I stare at myself in the mirror. The bags under my eyes are turning into a complete set of designer luggage. My hair–cropped short as it is–sticks out in every direction like a someone poured epoxy on a bowling alley in the middle of a game-winning strike.

Illusions never turned into something real.


I grab the tweezers from my shaving kit and force myself to concentrate on that one stray hair sticking out from my nostril. My hands are clumsy and heavy. It takes several attempts to get a grip on the slippery bastard. By the time I rip it clean, the pain is almost secondary to the number of times I’ve stabbed myself in the sniffer.

The pain has not succeeded. The man was still brought to life.

I shove some toilet paper up my nose-hole and use a bit more to wipe up the blood from my sink. Now, I can add throbbing pain to my list of gripes and I consider calling a lawyer to see if I can make a civil case against the pop star for unintentionally ruining my life twenty years ago.

But, I can’t afford an attorney. Besides, do I really want the kind of lawyer who answers the phone a 2:30 AM? It’s probably a fever dream anyway. I can’t be the first person to think of suing a pop star for mental damages caused by loss of sleep.

There are too many good songs in the world for that to be true. Successful musicians probably have an army of litigators dedicated to fighting the legal claims of the sleep-deprived.

Lying naked on the floor.

Sighing, I flip off the light in the bathroom and make my way back to my bed.

I fish around under the pile of sheets and blankets in a clumsy search for my phone. When I finally find it, the screaming bright screen burns my retinas, but I type in my search.

It is the first result.

I surrender, Natalie. You win.

I tap the YouTube video and let her sing her pain directly into my ears. Her anguish transcends time and fills my brain with a sick, gleeful satisfaction.

The song ends on my phone. The chorus continues in my mind.

I am prepared to smash the Satanic device against the wall when the sideways “v” catches my eye. Yes. Yes, you wonderful, horrible thing. I do want to share this video.

Facebook. Twitter. Anywhere and everywhere. I spread those haunting, addictive lyrics as far and fast as my thumbs can type. A frantic mania consumes me.

The world must remember Natalie’s pain!

And then… it is gone.

No need to continue sharing.

No endlessly skipping record crashing around inside my skull.

I’m free.

I drop my head back against the pillow. Slowly, sweetly, I drift down. Down into darkness. down into peace. Down into the welcome release of slumber.

Author’s Note

You don’t even want to know how many false starts I had on short stories this week. It’s painful. 

Also, I apologize to all of you who will now lose sleep over the song careening around inside your brain. 

I’m totally taking the blame for that one. 

It’s on me.