Okay, sleep now. Sleep now! Damn it! My eyes flicker open and I stare at the dark ceiling above me. Why can’t I sleep? It’s a natural thing like breathing and it should come just as easily and without the thinking. But no, my sleep won’t come, like it didn’t come last night or the night before. Sleep reminds me of grains of sand, slipping through your fingers. It’s difficult to stop of course, but if that hand closes tightly, then there always be grains of sand still in there. My sleep is one of those grains.
I roll over and Luke’s back is immediately in my face. He’s curled up, breathing gently, in the deepest of sleeps. Whilst I’m sprawled across the bed, breathing heavily, and wide awake. I try snuggling into him, but it takes awhile for me to find a comfy spot for my head. I breathe in deeply, smelling the warmth and the cleanness. Relax and drift. Relax and let it all go. Now remember to breath softly, let your body sink into the bed and just stay still.
Damn. I can’t do this! I’m up from the bed in a single movement. Throwing the duvet away and standing up. Luke doesn’t move or make a sound. I look jealously down on him and leave the room. The floor is cold, but I’m far too awake. I go into the kitchen and make myself a cup of tea.
When I was little and sick, my mum would make me a cup with lots of milk and a bit of whisky. That always smoothed and sent me drifting off. But we don’t have any whisky because Luke doesn’t drink and I forgot to get the milk. This single tea must do it all and these sleeping tablets. I don’t bother trying to be quiet. Luke sleeps like the dead.
Curling on the sofa, I put the news channel on and try to bore myself to sleep. The voices of the news reporters do make me sleepy, but the flashing images just give me a headache. Or maybe that’s the tablets? I know all the current news stories. I watched them this morning, lunch time and this evening. It seems that the day’s events just circle around and the news reporters have become fixated on the updates from Iraq, the house fire that killed those kids, the fact there’ll be frost tonight in the middle of March.
I sip my tea and watch the news from around the world. Nothing much new there. Turning the TV off, I get my Kindle and start reading War and Peace. It’s a long, boring book and it should put me to sleep. But English Lit students have their brains reprogrammed and no book can truly become boring. We can question and analyse every detail whilst we read. My brain becomes more awake.
I look for something else to read and end up with a collection of First World War poetry. It’s easy enough to read, but it does tug at your heart. I can only take so much, before I’m busy imagining life in the trenches and my mind is off on other tangent. To bring myself back, I look through the free downloaded-able books, but that only lasts a few minutes. Unlike a library or a book shop, my mind is never that interested in the book lists on the screen. I guess not being able to physical touch the book or flick though the pages is the cause.
It’s raining outside and I stand by the window, watching it. I’ve opened it a little, though the cold air isn’t helping. I like the rain. It’s relaxing and there’s something about watching it fall. Those tiny droplets falling on things and making them shimmer or smell sweeter. The ugly streetlamps, don’t look as bad when their light captures the shine of the rain. I let my thoughts drift and empty my head.
Being this high up means that I can see some of the cityscape, it’s not that pretty to look at, but our place looks over the cathedral and its gardens. I can see lights shining in other windows and I wonder why. What are people doing over there? Is that an office and they are working late? Catching up on some forgotten report or writing up some data. Maybe they are a guard patrolling the floors? Are those apartments over there? Has someone just got in from a trip and having something to eat or relaxing before sleep. Did they get lost in a good book and forget the time? Maybe it’s a student’s place and there’s a party going on, an essay being written or an all night gaming session happening. Or maybe someone just forgot to turn the lights out.
I wonder what would happen if someone turned the city lights out. There would be complete blackness. I’m sure no one would mind that much and it would only be the night owls affected. With the lights out, we could see the stars and the heavens above. Like that TV show said. The stars would be so bright and we could track them. The window isn’t angled to see much of the sky and it’s too cloudy.
I close the window, pick up my kindle and decided that some internet surfing might be in order. Something to focus and tire my brain out would be useful. Maybe an IQ test or a hidden object game or cards, anything that would make me forget about sleep. I surf the net. Check my social groups, play a few games, ponder what I’d like for my birthday, see if my friend sold her childhood toys yet and then I take a tour of the USA. We are planning to holiday there, but can’t decide where to visit.
After all my surfing, I’m feeling tried and sleepy. I tidied up, trying to keep my brain empty. I’m worried that if it starts thinking again, then the cycle will start again. I go back to bed and find Luke still asleep. He’s rolled over and taking up my side of the bed too. I push him and try to get him to move. But he’s like a log and I’m far too tried now. I don’t want to wake him, but I can’t sleep on the sofa.
I shake him, kiss him and poke him awake. My eyes have got use to the dark again now, so when he opens his eyes, I can see them. He mumbles and moves over. I lay down, my head hitting the pillow and all I can think about is sleep. Finally! But then Luke is throwing the duvet back and getting out of the bed. I cold draft hits my back and I half watch him shuffling around the room.
Tossing the duvet over, I try to sleep. I feel myself dozing off and I don’t fight. I just stay calm and relaxed. I feel myself balancing on the edge of sleep. My vision is black and sprinkled with white dots. I’m warm and safe. Let go now.
Suddenly, the bed sinks down, the duvet is moved, I’m cold again and a solid arm tries to grapple me. I become fully awake. I roll over planning to attack. What has disturbed my peace? It’s only Luke getting back into bed and wanting to snuggle. He’s puzzled for a few seconds, but doesn’t let go. I slip into his arms and we hold each other.
His breathing is in my ear, tickling my hair. I’m uncomfy and feel a bit suffocated. As much as I want to move though I don’t and I try so hard to climb my way back up the mountain of sleep. But I keep sliding off. There are no real thoughts in my head, it’s just I can’t sleep like this. I push away from him, making him come awake too. I ask him to tell me a story because I can’t sleep. He says he’s too tried and can’t think.
He hushes me. I’ve to pee. Why does that always happen when you are settled and don’t want to move? I’ve no choice. I get up and go to the bathroom. The flushing noise sounds so loud in my ears. Sweet bed and glorious sleep! Please come to me now. I need to do it and this time…this time if I don’t I’m going to give up and go and do something.
I crawl back to bed, snugly beside Luke and try once more. My eyes are heavy and they shut easily enough. I feel myself drifting and that little voice inside of me screams yes! Yes sleep is here! It has come at last and soon we shall dream like everyone else. But then Luke rolls over. His elbow hits my cheek and I’m wide awake. He jumps up at the same time as me. My hand flying to my stinging cheek and the tears of pain already in my eyes.
I’m sorry, he says. It doesn’t matter, I mumble back.
He kisses my cheek and once more we settle down. I turn as I lay back down and he wraps his arms around my body and we spoon. My favourite position. We can both be comfy holding each other now. I feel safe and loved like this too. I shut my eyes and try to get back into that state once more.
I drift. I imagine waking up tomorrow, safe in Luke’s arms with him kissing me and mumbling in my ear. I imagine the sex and the dozing time afterwards. There’s so much to wake up for tomorrow.