Magical realism in a Kafkaesque mode. What would happen if wings grew on your head?

Jim Esch
13 min readDec 19, 2021


What was making it so hard for me to fall asleep? In bed I would ponder what seemed like routine matters: tomorrow’s work agenda, the approaching visit from my father, the pressing need for a haircut. Why so much difficulty? Was it the winter time, the cold, the dull shadows and white light? If anything, the absence of light made me want to sleep more. I tended to sleep later and more deeply in the winter. Sometimes, I would even sleep through the clock radio alarm.

After a particularly unsettled night, which resulted in oversleeping, I hastily phoned work to tell them I was running late, then I called my father about the problem. He said, try an over-the-counter pill, but I disliked medicinal remedies, only using them as a last resort. He reminded me that he was coming soon for an extended visit, and he wanted to be sure I was making proper preparations. I told him I had new sheets on the spare bed, and an old fashioned wind up alarm clock on the stand beside it, just the way he liked it.

It had been two years since our last visit. Since then I had moved to a new city. I lived alone in a one-bedroom apartment, a quiet and mostly settled life.

I am not the extroverted type. I stick to my job and do it well. My parents were always proud of my accomplishments. I don’t smoke or drink. To relax, I go on long walks through the city, a fedora on my head and a thick scarf to protect me from winter winds. There, I stroll along the muddy river and contemplate my goals in life: stay organized and take solace from the efficiencies of modern living, like electricity and portable technology, remote controls and self-cleaning ovens. I smile broadly when beholding engineering feats such as well-constructed suspension bridges, light rail systems, and smoothly rounded cloverleaf highway exits. It seems to me that others don’t appreciate them enough.


Work that day was filled with petty nuisances, and predictably, I was irritable and unable to rest at night. In bed, my head found no comfort in the soft down pillow. I kept scratching my scalp. The itch was intolerable, deeper than a dandruff itch. My fingers scraped the hair across the temples, the two sides like…




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