She’d been asleep for maybe an hour, that first good sleep that’s heavy as an anesthetic. When the ringing started, she couldn’t think for a minute what the noise was. She fumbled for her phone on the bedside table, but by the time she got her hands on it the ringing stopped. She subsided back onto her pillow, eyes closed.
But then it rang again. She was quicker this time and heard, “Hey, are you just blowing off my calls? What the hell?” It was a young male voice.
“You’ve got the wrong number, and it’s the middle of the night,” she wailed, hanging up without waiting for an answer.
The phone rang again; she ignored it. Next came the beep-beep-beep of messages hitting her phone in rapid succession. Before she could read them, the ringing started again.
“Stop calling me!”
“This is really important. I just need to know if you are either Alex or Wendy. If you’re not, I’ll apologize.”
“NO, I AM NOT ALEX OR WENDY.”
“Oh. I ‘pologize.”
Too late for apologies. By now, she was so rigid with fury that sleep went slinking out the door. Oh, she tried to lure it back. Deep breathing didn’t help. Counting backward by threes from one thousand didn’t help. Relaxing her limbs one by one didn’t help. She stared dry-eyed at the ceiling, cataloging all her sins large and small. Self-doubt, anxiety, remorse and dread, the four horsemen of insomnia, saddled up and pounded through her head. Why were there never any good thoughts at three a.m.? The clock continued its digital journey toward morning.
“I have to get up at six anyway, but it’s dark and cold and I just can’t face the day yet. I’ll stay in bed, even if I don’t sleep,” she told herself at five.
Immediately, as if hit on the head, she fell into a deep slumber, only to be jolted awake by the buzz of her alarm. Groaning, she levered herself to a sitting position cursing her midnight caller, Alex, Wendy, all their kith, kin and ancestors. Now, when she’d finally recaptured sleep, it was time to get up. She’d fumble through the busy day ahead in a fog of sleep-deprivation.
As her brain slowly booted up to daytime mode, a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. She reached for her phone, pulled up the screen showing recent calls and punched the last number. A sleepy voice mumbled, “H’lo?”
“Hello, this is Wendy. I hear you’ve been trying to reach me.”
“Huh? Who? Do you know what time it is?”
“Sure do. Don’t hang up because I’ll just keep calling. It’s really important, right? If it isn’t, I’ll apologize.”