It’s two in the morning. What am I still doing up? In a couple of hours, I have to start my day. If I don’t get to sleep, I will have been up a full twenty-four hours. The kettle, I unplugged it, didn’t I? I’m sure I did. Did I turn off the stove? I did. I’m sure of it. I can’t seem to get that song out of my head. Think about something else. Don’t think! Sleep!
This is Freedom Friday. This is how I escaped the abyss.
One day blends into the next. There is no difference. Today’s a semblance of good day. I don’t look like a character out of a Tim Burton movie—spiked hair, sunken eyes and pale skin. I can get things done. The birds chirping aren’t a bother either. Why do birds chirp? Why don’t dogs chirp?
Two years ago, I averaged two hours sleep a night.
My reflection in the window of the department store scares me. I run. I glance over my shoulder but no one is there. Everyone looks the same. Why are they laughing at me? Who is that? Is he the one following me? I sit on a bench staring. My thoughts continue to race. Tonight, will be a good night. I will sleep.
The doctor asks if I am suffering from stress. I ask, doesn’t everyone? I’m in perfect physical condition. Then why can’t I sleep? Perhaps a prescription? No, no drugs.
Where are my car keys? What did I do with my keys? I lost my keys. Why can’t I remember where I put them? Here they are. I hate my chores. I don’t want to take out the garbage. I don’t want to mow the lawn. And I do not want to have a smile on my face when all I feel is emptiness. I just want to lie down in a dark room, close my eyes and fall into a coma for a month.
She asks, is everything all right? I say, yes.
I must have tossed on my pillow a dozen times. I can’t get comfortable. What is wrong with this bed? Lie still. Breathe slowly. Now close your eyes. I can’t. Damned clock. Stop telling me how much time I have left before I’m supposed to wake up!
A year later, I had to put a stop to it.
She asks, is everything all right? I say, no, I can’t sleep again. What’s wrong? I just—can’t sleep. Pray. What? Pray about it.
I pray, asking for release.
The lamb smells good. I broiled it in a marinade of garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and oregano. I thought it would go well with the sautéed red and green peppers, and onions. That salad is to die for, too. Fresh cucumbers and onions give it a pleasurable crunch. I can’t wait to try my new Merlot I made a month ago. I’ve been saving it for tonight’s special meal. Everything smells so good.
I relax downstairs by the fireplace watching Edward Scissorhands, one of my favorite Tim Burton movies. I allow my mind to wander on the day. How sweet the birds sounded chirping this morning. How funny I looked passing that department store window this afternoon. How the car purred heading home. Although the lawn didn’t need mowing, I had taken out the trash. My smile grows. I so much enjoy watching this film.
The bedroom door clicks behind me. I pull the shades and dim the nightstand light. I turn the alarm clock to face the wall. After slipping into a T-shirt and brushing my teeth, I sit and read. Shakespeare sure has a way of making a story unfold. My eyes begin to droop. It’s time.
The bed feels comfortable. I turn off the light and close my eyes.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.
Have you ever had to battle insomnia?