Callie usually slept okay. Not great, but okay. However, there would be the occasional night when, at three a.m., she’d wake up. After the mandatory trip to the bathroom, she’d be wide-eyed. Curling up on her left side, then right side, stretching out on her back, then stomach, Callie chased the elusive dream of sleep. Sometimes she’d realize she must have made a short trip to dreamland, because where else would Megan Markle with that little black bear on a leash have come from? But then her eyes would pop open again.
Grimly, she’d count the hours: “If I fall asleep right now, I’ll only get four, no three, hours of sleep. I’ll be a wreck tomorrow. Towards morning, she might doze for a few minutes, but there was that big black hole in the middle of the night.
Okay, I’ll use the sleepless time to think, to plan, she resolved. But her mind behaved more like a trash compactor than a computer. Instead of reviewing her To Do List, she’d review the day before.
I wonder what my boss meant by that. Did I say something to offend her? Should I apologize or just let it go and hope she forgets? Maybe she wasn’t offended at all, so why bring it back up? Why am I such a jerk?
Or she’d wander down Memory Lane. I was so mean to Marilyn back in third grade. I made her cry. I bet she’s never forgotten it. That was bullying. I was a bully. How awful!
Fluff pillow, flip to cool side. Repeat.
Oh, my gosh! I forgot to lock up the personnel files at work. Should I get up and go to the office right now? No, the security guard might call the police. But I’ll go in early, do it before my boss gets there. So I need to go to sleep right now…
Concentrate on breathing. In…out…in…out.
Ah, she was falling asleep…she could feel herself drifting…drifting…wait! Is that the neighbor’s dog barking? Why is he outside at this hour? He’s barking like he means it. Is someone trying to break into their house? MY house? We should have a plan in case of a home invasion. We should have a safe room. But we can’t afford to build one right now. If we spend that kind of money, it should be to get that big pine tree taken down. Wonder what that will run. A thousand? More? And then there’s nothing to show for it except a pile of sawdust. But what if it fell on one of the neighbor’s houses? Or ours! It’s right over this bedroom.
Bathroom trip again. They say you should get up and do something when you can’t sleep. But then I’ll wake everyone else. Besides, I might go to sleep any minute. Any minute now. What’s wrong with me? What have I done with my life? Would anyone even miss me if I was gone? Where is the joy? Isn’t life supposed to be joyful? I read that someplace.
Callie’s nightgown was twisted around her like a strait jacket. Her cheeks burned from rubbing on the pillow case. Various parts of her body took turns aching, so no matter how she arranged herself, something hurt. She was too hot; too cold. Covers were pulled up to her chin, covers were thrown back. Her husband groaned. She tried to lie completely still. It was torture. She had to move her legs, they were twitching. What if she held them straight up, reversed the flow of blood?
Maybe there’s something bad wrong with me. Blood clot? Early-onset dementia? Cancer? I’ve had a couple of bad headaches lately. And there goes that darn mosquito bite, itching again. Do not scratch; do not scratch. Think of pleasant things. Remember that time you got that nice bonus at work? Yeah, and it bumped us up into another tax bracket.
Okay, what about that wonderful trip to Paris? We should go again. But the logistics! Book plane tickets, schedule time off work, take the kids or find a baby-sitter, do kids need passports – I can’t start thinking about the logistics or I’ll never sleep. Count backwards by threes from one hundred. Ninety-seven, ninety-four, ninety-one….
At last, Callie fell into the deepest, most refreshing, dream-free sleep of her life. The kind of sleep that “knits up the raveled sleave of care,” as Shakespeare put it. The kind of sleep that makes a person sane and happy and…what’s that awful noise?