There is no explanation for what this is. Well, perhaps there is one. I seem to be able to express my deepest self only through talking animals. Why? I don’t know. I really don’t.
We don’t have eyelids. Well, maybe some of us do. I’ve never cared for eyelids, never needed them. If you’re wondering how we sleep without eyelids, I don’t know. I can’t answer difficult questions. I’m a fish. I’m proud of being a fish. What does pride have to do with sleep? Everything. You sleep in a bed, don’t you? You share someone else’s warmth, also? I don’t. I’m a fish. I’m proud of being a fish. And one thing about fish is that we’re rarely alone. We travel in large groups, in elaborate formations that make us look collectively like other, bigger fish. But when we sleep we sleep alone. We sleep with our eyes open, scanning the vast expanse of ocean for the next thing that will try to eat us. We sleep and we dream with our eyes open. But our dreams are just the exact things that are happening around us in real time. Usually I dream of algae or drifting seaweed or nothing at all, an eternal blackness. I’m a fish. I’m proud of being a fish. We don’t require dreams. We require nothing but the water in our gills. You might be thinking, Fish are stupid. Why are we stupid? Because we chomp down on your hooks? You don’t think we know what hooks are? You don’t think we see your boats and hear your voices and feel your vibrations? You don’t think we see your huge heads blocking out the sun? Of course we do. If we chomp down on a hook it’s because we want to. I did it once. I bit down hard and felt that hook slice through my cheek and I lost consciousness for a second, and when I came to I was on the warm sand, staring up at a sky bluer than anything I’d ever seen and more beautiful than the entire ocean combined, and I felt the oxygen leaving me, my muscles twitching against my will as they too relinquished their being to something greater, some world beyond our own, where there are no eyes and no questions of sleep, where we can live entirely inside our own heads and not ever again have to interact with anything real. But I never made it there. Before I could protest they took the hook out of my mouth and tossed me back in the water. I haven’t found another hook since. I don’t know where I am. But I am a fish. I am proud of being a fish.
Written at 12:42 at night, in my office, in Agoura Hills CA, while sitting in a bathrobe with a space heater pointed at my feet.