I wrote the goodbye letter to Sleep and mailed it. I thanked Sleep for the good times and the bad and indicated that maybe I would see it again sometime but that I didn’t seem to be able to use it just then. Even when I get so tired and my body feels like an anchor sinking to the ocean’s depths, I can’t bury that hook into Sleep.
So, Sleep, go find someone else.
Go next door where the creepy neighbor man comes out between our houses and talks to our dog when everyone else (except me!) is sleeping in the darkness of the night.
When Mom pulls me off the couch and steers me toward my bedroom, I think I will be able to do it. I let her lead me and I think the whole time, I am so sleepy, I am so sleepy. Lela is so sleepy and she wants to close her eyes. And I get in bed, and . . . my eyes open, and I’m staring at the ceiling and listening for the sound of Norman crunching the leaves between our houses in his nightly talk with Jinx. Mom sleeps soundly and quietly. The house makes subtle noises--the frig ice-maker cracking and popping and the furnace firing up.
I stare at the ceiling and think about Jesse and the taxi driving by me in the alley, the feel of night air on bare skin, dogs barking on the alert in everyone’s back yard.
I think about that first night of saying goodbye to Sleep, how I got up and pulled on some jeans over my pajamas, zipped on a black hooded jacket and slipped on my tennis shoes, then sneaked out the front door. It was about 2:30 in the morning when I started out. I didn’t have a single idea in my head except to wander the neighborhood and try to make myself sleepy.
But when I came home two hours later, I was still not sleepy. My shoes were muddy, and the knees of my jeans were wet and ripped. And I was thinking of that prayer of laying me down to sleep and how it was a prayer about dying. If I die tonight, God, take my soul. How morbid is that? Who wants to say a prayer about dying every night of their life? And then I wondered what it would be like to die every night of my life.
Dear Sleep, I think I’m beginning to know.
*This is the preface to the next manuscript I'm going to start revising. If you would be interested in reading it chapter by chapter, comment below and I'll make a site for it. Thanks!