I finally slept, and I mean...slept.
I generally wake every hour, no matter the chemical influence. That's how it was last night too, or I should say yesterday morning. I tossed and turned, and wrote stuff in my mind as I hugged my pillows and a well-loved bear. I wished for pencils for some things I'd thought, and for others, that edit function in my mind only served to jolt me from the ease. Sometimes I try to trick myself, and I pretend that I am in my childhood bedroom, and I remember the walls of it, covered with my drawings of doves, surrounded by a stained glass technique I'd mastered with watercolor.
Sometimes then I can sleep.
Sometimes I spray my sheets with lavender, and other times I try to...ease myself. I don't do that often though, for more often than not, it only breeds further frustration. So I don't do that often anymore. My fingers, they make me cry now.
I think they oughtta be more.
I have scarves across my windows, and the streetlights play through them, and last night I left one window open, and the breeze of coming storms fluttered across my sheets. I felt sticky with humidity, but the surprise of breeze and smell of salt was enough, and besides, the leaves on the neighbors' trees fluttered like pages of books in the wind. When the wind graced me at all, it was nice...
I tend to write poems in these driftings, and sometimes ideas will wake me excited. But this morning I was weary from too many nights like this, and I felt gravity pinning my wings and I was splayed across the bed, a living solar cross.
That's when I heard her voice:
I turned my head to the right, and felt my sinuses close with the shift.
And I jolted, dreaming she was shaking me. I heard Cathy calling me, and I woke startled, late for school. Until I remembered...
Cathy's dead. And I'm alive. I'm forty-three years old and...hey? Did my kids get up for school? I squinted at the clock then froze--the phone was ringing.
Eight-thirty in the morning and the phone was ringing. No one calls me at that hour. Nobody but...well, she's dead.
I waited as the phone rang for the third time.
Surely it would stop.
I frowned and reached for my cigarettes, and grappled with the near empty pack for one of the hidden few. I lit my stogie and enjoyed the burn of morning lungs--some proof I was alive as the phone rang for the fifth time now.
Something could be wrong--again.
I bit the cig between my teeth and slapped my thighs alive. Then I hobbled a run for the phone, and every time it rang I thought it wouldn't ring again, but it fooled me every time and I managed to answer at the eleventh ring.
"Is this Karen?"
I didn't recognize the voice.
"Yes, yes, who is it?"
"Is this Karen?" A man's voice sounded confused.
"Yes, yes, it's me--who is this?"
"It's Uncle Ray."
"Um..." I scratched my head confused.
"Is this my niece, Karen?"
"My name is Karen, but I don't have an Uncle Ray."
He laughed embarrassed, but I broke out in tears and frustration:
"It's not funny--you scared the hell out of me!"
That didn't stop him from laughing, but he did apologize.
"Go back to sleep," he said, and I thought I detected a hint of Spanish accent.
"Nothing is wrong but the number."
* * *
* * *
I did go back to sleep, and I slept until three-thirty. My husband had gone to work on the evening shift by then, and my kids were home from school.
I woke to the sound of dogs barking and heard my daughter telling the-someone-at-the-door:
"Mom's still sleeping."
No. No I'm not.
And I yelled that out as proof.
So Ralph came in, and kept me company while I shook the fog from my lashes. I told him I had overslept, and he just said I should make some coffee too. I told him I would brush my teeth first, and he said
which almost made me blush.
So I gave him leave of a seat as I got myself together and my son told me, kind of wincingly:
"You slept a long, long time."
I apologized to him and said I hadn't intended that but he interrupted me to say:
"I made Dad check on you, before he went to work."
I nodded, a toothbrush in my mouth. (He had been following me around to talk.)
I was brushing my teeth mechanically in the mirror by then and heard my son add,
"I asked him to make sure you were alive."
I gagged with surprise and spat into the sink. I rinsed and turned to hug my son, but he was already gone.
* * *
Y'see? It happens just-like-that.
and I'm afraid to sleep...
* * *
We're better, I think. Until stuff like this happens. Then I realize, it's gonna take some time.