Sleep

by John Bashir

The stillness in the air was only disturbed by the whining of a box fan in the corner of the room. The curtains on the window billowed in with the breeze when it felt inclined to disturb their sleep, which was not very often. Sleeping had become a way to satiate the boredom of the long hot Alabama summers, but you can only sleep for so many hours of the day, and it was already well past morning. Slowly rising from the double bed he stumbles into the bathroom to exam the damage done in the night to his hair, and to brush his teeth, not that he was going anywhere this afternoon. The summer had not been bad, but not necessarily good, just average, painfully average. It was, however, almost time to go back to college, to continue in the path that was predetermined, the path that was mandatory. He was always taught that if you want to succeed you have to go to college, get a degree, then on to your career so you can support your future family, and that is just the way things work.

These ideas were always taught as something close to law. If you don't go to college you will never go anywhere in life. Although this may be true, it is still not an exciting prospect to most. After high school you go to college, after college you get a job, after you work for 40 years you finally get to retire, but by the time you finally get to do something for yourself you're already well past the prime of your life. During the time he did get for himself during the summer he wasted so many hours asleep, or waiting for sleep, or feigning sleep, that could have been spent doing something. He had had always had thoughts of running, just getting up one morning and driving out of his small hometown in the South, but fear would set in and he would go back to sleep. There was just too much to lose. The scholarship at school, the girlfriend of the last 3 years, and the adoration of his parents: so he stayed in his bed waiting until sleep would no longer have him, and he would have to wake up and be alone with his thoughts.

How would he feel in the future if he continued his living his life like this? When he was still working 70 hours a week at the law firm that he hated, when he still slept next to the wife he no longer loved, when he still went to church even though he didn't even believe in God. Would he daydream about where he could have woken up this morning if he had left that morning 20 years ago when he was still 19 years old? What would have become of him...? Snapping out of this nightmare in the middle of the day he sat up, depressed at his vision of a suburban future. It was not too late to do something about this average existence he lived, but he knew that he would never have the courage to run, nor the resolve to stay gone; so he went back to sleep.

The fan continues to keep him company at night; its gentle purr putting him to sleep and keeping him there. School had started several weeks ago, but despite the change of scenery the monotony continued unbroken from the summer. The desire to run from his roots continued to build underneath his skin, but for now that was where it would stay. No matter how determined the heart was the mind just kept saying no. It was a battle that had been fought inside his brain many times, but the outcome had never changed. Although he knew that if he could just make it out of the state there would be no looking back, that was still a large step to take. Until then he would just continue to sleep, pretending that one day he would finally make it out, and not have to worry about the regret of mistakes from his youth.

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