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The Painted Mind
by Nathaniel Tower

The moment my head hits the pillow, my mind becomes a vibrant canvas filled with such vivid colors that any Impressionist artist would put up the brush forever and piss all over their work. Painters of other genres would likely do the same.

Most of the day that canvas is blank. The moment the sun rises and paints its own canvas, my head raises off that pillow and all of my thoughts cease.

I want to see the color during the day, but it only comes to me at night, numerous shades and tints swirling throughout my mind, slowly driving me insane, rendering me sleepless yet tired. The last part spills over into the day where like a zombie I must walk until it is again time for me to lay my head upon that pillow.

And like clockwork, the moment the head hits, everything comes rushing back, and though I am tired, sleep just will not come. There are too many other occupants to let the sleep enter.

One day, I became tired of my tiredness and decided to clean that canvas. The only way I know to enter my mind is through the ear. My first plan was to wash that canvas clean, so I went into the shower as soon as the thoughts started swirling and titled my head to allow all the water to run in my left ear. Then I turned my head over and let all the water flow into the right one. After drying off, I went back to bed. As soon as my head hit the pillow, all of the thoughts had returned. Water wouldn't work.

I wasn't about to try turpentine or any other harmful liquid in my ear, so I decided to do the only other thing I could think of that eliminated markings from paper. While my head was still on the pillow, those unpleasant thoughts swirling around, I reached to my nightstand for a pencil and jammed the eraser end as far into my ear as I could. Once it was in there, I ignored the pain and shook my hand violently in all directions until I was sure I had erased everything that had ever been there. It was the best sleep I have ever had.

I sleep well these days, but sometimes I wish that some thoughts would re-enter my head, day or night.