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MFotD: Hypnagogic

May 21, 2012

I don’t know about you, but I’m actually remembering the definitions of these words. Used to be that I would look at the word of the day and forget its meaning within the week.

hypnagogic, adj. (hyp-nuh-GAH-jik)

1. of, relating to, or occurring in the period of drowsiness immediately preceding sleep


She lay on the asphalt, her legs mangled like branches of willows that were meant to convey a menacing atmosphere in movies—or like the body of someone with boneitis, a fictional but horrible disease from a television show she was fond of watching late at night, when channels aired nothing but reruns of funny programs. The ring of people encircling her she did not see, for her head was in too much pain to turn or adjust in any way, and she would not have moved it even if she could, preferring to gaze at the passing clouds above.

One resembled a peanut. It was drifting east, headed toward an upside-down squirrel, and she wondered if she would live to see them collide. The other clouds didn’t look like anything, but one did briefly swallow a plane. The passengers in the window seats may have been looking down on her demise, seeing nothing out of the ordinary in the seemingly choreographed movement of the ants and colorful boxes below. She was not mad or offended or full of self-pity at that thought, rather sorry that she may have been that person once. She apologized to the person who died in case they existed.

Suddenly she remembered, or rather was in, one of her classrooms. The word hypnagogic was alone on the blackboard; she had just learned about the importance and symbolism of hypnagogic thoughts just last week, but in which class she could not recall. She recognized the scattered nature of her present thoughts, and hit upon the revelation that this was her last flight of hypnagogic fancy. She considered all the things she used to wish and pine for as a little girl, like the glory of beating her dad in H-O-R-S-E just once, or her dog unveiling a heroic alter-ego, whose heroism consisted of pulling pranks on her older brother Shane. There were of course other occasions when her mind went rogue, scaring her with snakes under her mattress or Gengar the Pokémon leering at her from the corners of her room, after skulking after her all day with plans to eat her soul.

But she didn’t forget the nights when her parents put her to bed too early and those amorphous, uncertain thoughts, which even then she knew signaled the nearness of sleep, never came. She would lie in bed, turning on her left side then her right, fluffing her pillow and flipping it over, all the while hearing the laugh track on the television in the next room blare regularly like a siren. She would wait for the sound of someone going to the bathroom, then crawl from the bedroom to hide under the table and watch TV in secret. She especially enjoyed when the show Spin City was on, because she was old enough to understand that she was too young for certain jokes and that brought her more innocent mischievous pleasure. Plus, Shane liked that actor, David Spade, from those movies with…that fat guy.

She curious how she never told Shane about those nocturnal excursions, he would have enjoyed that; now it seemed that those memories, that part of her, would be completely lost. No one ever saw or heard her, regardless if she remained under the table or crawled silently back to bed.

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