The bedside clock is red and angry, like a fist about to strike. You visualize lying on the beach on a cloud-filled night, the stars present, but veiled. Looking for them is futile, you tell yourself. You close your eyes, hold them that way, encouraging them to walk the walk, but in seconds they search again for shapes in the dark. You attend to the cool intake of your breathing, and then the warm exhalation as you were taught, and for a moment, feel adrift. Only a moment, though, and it is gone.
Tens of thousands of small children walk endlessly in search of safety.
Your left anklebone rests painfully on your right shin as if skin and sinew are missing. You shift. The bed has hardened to pounded mud, alternating between goose-bumpy cool and impossibly warm. The bedside clock taunts you. It tap, tap, taps its impatience. Your mind is empty, you swear again. The book, in mid-chapter, has been left behind. The next day’s list exists. You turn on your side again.
Women are forced to the back of trucks and driven into jungles.
You return to a house, one constructed over many nights, its rooms adjoining and endless. The darkened foyer is welcoming. You see yourself as if from above, the top of your head bobbing as you notice the shoes left astray. The patterned carpet, worn slightly on one side. The divot in the wall from a careless handyman. Further into the house you wander, fingertips grazing the fabrics on the worn loveseat. A single candle the only illumination. The dining room is scented with polish and your eyes are no longer sharp. Your breathing slows as you enter the library. Imagine that there are more books than stars. There is the sense of sinking with the sloping house and you allow yourself to tread the path lower.
There may be no Arctic ice next year.
You get up to pee for the third time, though this one is prophylactic, in the event that the impossible happens. You disturb your husband’s even breathing, but he settles back immediately, and you hate him just then. You shift to your back, as the pillow’s crease on your cheek will not be properly earned. Light creeps around the heavy curtains, spilling onto the starless sky above you. The clock smirks.
No, you tell the doctor. You have no reason to sleep poorly.