Sleep Club

by Grace Craven Joyner

Sleep Club

  As with the wind, the wind stirs, and this she can tell by the dancing curtains that flutter from the slightly opened bedroom window. She stirs too, our girl Krystal. Wrapping the blue wool blanket around herself, bathing in the texture, a feel prickly around her neck. The sandman has come but didn't do his job. Her eyes are wide open, and there is a gritty feel in her eyes like sand but not heavy enough to shut them.. The goal was sleep. There was a tossing and turning amid the quiet. If a mouse scampered across the floor, she would hear it. Just avoid looking at the time she thought but a quick glance at the alarm said it was 2:34am. Now she decides to open and shut her eyes to the tick, tick rhythm of that clock. Normally, this girl of 34 gets in bed by 10:30. Her hair is free of curlers because she feels the roll of each pink, plastic bar and foam on her pillow. So beauty is forsaken and she settles for a  pinned up hairstyle most days.

  Up, up we go. To the bathroom. A place to keep tidy by oneself as she resides alone with oneself. Yes, a quick look in the bottle from the mirrored closet above the sink says she has taken her medication. Needed for well, her anxiety and such. But she knows she has taken it, that;s why she's awake. She swears it keeps her awake.

  Meanwhile her best friend from work. Yes, there are best friends in your neighborhood, best friends among your relatives, not to be confused with best friends from work. That friend just woke up in the early morning hours, her clock said 3:01 am. She had been sound asleep only to be startled by a long wail from a wandering cat. It was like a howl coming from below the closed window. It's many nights she has been awakened from a couple's argument or an accidental trip over a trash can. Tough, just tough being in a corner house, that's also used as a public transit stop. And a public phone opposite her corner where many folks do their calling at 4am.

  Should the friend call Krystal, she knows she's the insomniac. No, she decides to shrug it off and squirm farther down the bed sheet to acquire more sleep. This interruption may hurt the next day's schedule but she'll try not to think about it.

   Now Krystal and the friend both think about the cousin. Krystal's cousin and Krystal's cousin is shivering. Plagued by nightmares during the evening times, she wants it but is afraid of sleep. This grown woman sleeps with a nightlite. Most nighlites come in shapes that entertain children. So what she has is a yellowish-orange Disney character in the socket beside her glass night table.

  What was it this night that woke her up. She remembered it as being in a dimly lit cave, somewhere faraway, faraway land perhaps. And there was a stream of muddy water running through the fierce darkness of the cave. Could she get out and where would she go. Awake and lucid now, she thought of going back to her family. She couldn't live alone with the fantastic ideas running through her head day and night. Mostly nights, lurid thoughts driving her awake with frantic sweat.

  It is night again and Krystal had talked to her doctor earlier that day. Trying to convince him that that particular medicine or that particular dose keeps her awake at night. Day is a long 24 hours to her. When the sun goes down and she pulls the shade to, night is part of one long day. It doesn't divide with a good night's sleep which is necessary for supreme functioning when the sun is at it's best. Tonight would be a spoon of peanut butter before retiring. Last night was a glass of warm milk. Previous to that was aerobics before falling into bed. And then it was a good book which got distracting when she couldn't close her eyes.

  When it was the time and what does time mean. Well, factually it was between 10 and 11pm. She entered a bedroom that was designed to be conducive to sleep. At one time her bed had faced north and south, but she rearranged the room as to face east and west, as was the previous direction when she lived with her parents. The comforter was pulled back and she fluffed the pillow. Put one knee into the mattress, then the other, 'til she lay back. And she lay there, trying to keep her eyes shut.

  'Don't look at the alarm clock,' she mumbled to herself. An airplane flew overhead. She looked at the clock, 11:20pm. She grabbed the phone. It was okay to call the friend and the cousin, they probably were awake. All three would settle for a restful night's sleep. She told them separately that she might of forgotten to take her medication. The doctor disagreed but the bottle plainly said 'may cause insomnia.' Now what's the deal, anxiety in the day or restlessness and anxiety at night. She would remember to take it tomorrow.

  Friend was always awakened by some noise on her busy street. Friend had told her earlier that today a detour put nearby blocked all traffic except the residents who lived there. She often complained about how on her bed she could hear every word of a conversation of anyone with a loud voice.

   Cousin was in a good mood. What, with a small promotion given her that day on the job. The elevated mood tickled her. Cousin had to take naps in the midday because of her interrupted sleep. She wasn't imagining as she did most days of witches and poisons and ropes being tied around her waist.

  It was during this conversation that elsewhere, the orange and blue neon lights of the city lit up the night. The trees would sway in the breeze. And patrons on the bar stools sat gabbing too. A rustle of wind would send debris down the sidewalk. And cars were on their way home. The air of the night maybe you can smell. The navy blue sky brings it down so there is conclusion to the day.

  But our three talked, realizing the happenings of this day were of a temporary nature. Fleeting moods and experiences and circumstances that may or may not be the same tomorrow. They spoke on 'til their vigor tired with 'did you know this' and 'do you know that'. Their words escaped over the line until they bid their ado. This was the sleep club, then the sleep club hung up 'til the nocturnal consciousness surprised them.

By Grace Joyner

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