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November Nocturne: Do Not Disturb – The World Is Asleep

A Parallel Planets piece by Jacintha Yap

Parallel Planets presents November Nocturne
Do Not Disturb: The World Is Asleep
Story by Jacintha Yap

Mentioned: a starless night, 24 hours and a closed hotel room

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For all the nocturnal souls out there who’s experienced those long nights.

What is black to me? Black is the vision of a starless night, it is the shadow stretching further from the body, enveloping the sky and subsuming the moon.

On most days, I don’t get the luxury of experiencing the slow transition of day to night. However, when I do, nothing feels natural about it. I watch the sky turn from light to dark and an unsettling feeling pricks at me. I imagine it is somewhat like staring at a Rothko painting – the colors, the landscape before me taut with emotions – I begin to feel things but I can’t quite identify what. I just know that the dark sky is a trigger, that nighttime is like an open door, always inviting.

I am haunted by the night but the moon comforts me. My eyes do not rest until I see that slip of silver emerge from dusty specks of gray clouds. The moon fills me with a sense of security. To me, the moon’s a silent guardian of the night. She watches over her dazed children, guarding our unconscious bodies until morning comes.

Growing up, I have always identified as being a night owl. The night was thrilling, it was forbidden territory for a young girl with a curfew to abide to, and my rebellious streak sent me exploring, imagining up adventures that only manifested when the sky turned dark. Everything felt like an adventure at night. The cold gust of wind, the quietude, the sound of footsteps slowly approaching, the crickets interacting, the tall grass, the empty bus stops and the illuminated signs of 24-hour stores. Those 24-hour stores were my constant dream material. I romanticized them endlessly and they led me to many dreams. 

Still from Wong Kar-wai's Chungking Express

The picture in my head— I’d be awake at the wee hours of the night, sitting in a quiet coffee joint with a dim neon sign outside that reads, “Opens 24 Hours”, while sipping a black coffee. I would stare at the reflection of the traffic lights through the frosted window. Nights like these were the thing of dreams. Quiet, peaceful, time slows to a standstill, and you cogitate idly with yourself. It was a luxury.

The night made me felt energetic, as though moonlight was a fuel that I would absorb like an energy drink. I would do everything at night if I could – grocery shopping, going for walks, and eating breakfast. There was truly a certain sense of mystery and allure in doing things at night. Everything took on another meeting – a walk at night turns into a secret rendezvous, sleeplessness becomes productive, the songs playing on the radio becomes easier to relate to and the cashier working the night shift appears more memorable than the cashier in the day.

For all the excitement and romanticism, for all those ideas and ideals, there is still reality. Things expire and are abandoned and at night, you realize that even more acutely. (Even your soul abandons you at night when you dream) On some nights, heavy with the burden of insomnia, aching with a loneliness that can only be human, I am tired of the night. The world is asleep but I am not. It is dark but in my room, there is light. I feel like a waking ghost, living in eigen grau, eye floaters obscuring my reality, my mind being consumed by the shriek of silence. The silence is too jarring. 

Still from Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation

The night is long, always long and we make use of these lost hours to do everything, to do nothing. The night is lonely. The world at night feels like a closed hotel room. Do not disturb, the sign reads. Do not worry, their souls utter, this sleep is only temporary, and we would return to the shells of the people you know when morning comes.

But no matter how long the night feels, it ends, just like everything. It ends like this— aching eyes that have lived through the whole night experiencing the first light of dawn or being woken up to by the sound of your alarm. 

The sun has risen and the magic has faded. Go back to who you are in the day, go back to your office job, you’d be reunited with the night soon enough.

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Editor's Note: This feature is a part of our "black" theme, November Nocturne. To share your work on Parallel Planets, click here to know what we're currently looking for. You may also read more from Jacintha Yap.

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