Years Without Sleep — Part 1

(Today’s featured story is from my book of short stories, Naked Ladies: Seasons of the Heart. The book is available through Amazon, or through Smashwords.

For the fifteenth time in a two-minute period, I changed positions in the bed. I couldn’t get comfortable. I couldn’t fall asleep. Just about the time I would start to relax, some muscle in my leg would twitch and I would jerk again.

I sat up and then eased out of bed. My husband, Dan, on his side of the bed, slept peacefully, his soft breaths whooshing evenly in and out. I envied him the ability to sleep.

I had thought I would start sleeping again once the youngest of our three kids, Tim, left for college. The house was quiet; I was no longer listening for doors closing at all hours of the night, or awakened by car stereos blaring out on the driveway. I had expected my life to become peaceful and my sleep patterns to normalize. Instead, I was in and out of bed seven or eight times every night, and if I slept, it was only a light doze that left me feeling I hadn’t slept at all.

“Marjorie, I hope you snap out of this before the merger next month,” Mr. Perkins, my supervisor, said one day at the office. I was making more mistakes than usual on the documents for which I was responsible. Often, I had to redo even the simplest letter.

“I’m trying, Mr. Perkins. Just having some trouble sleeping. I’ll get it under control.”

Inside, I groaned. The merger. That’s all I’d been hearing for weeks, and the prospect of all those legal documents and the mounds of paperwork to be printed and then mailed or emailed to shareholders was what should be keeping me awake. But truthfully, I had no idea what prevented me from being able to relax. I was tired — I was exhausted. Yet night after night insomnia struck.

When Mr. Perkins left my cubicle, I slipped off to the coffee room for another cup and to find someone to commiserate with me. My friend Adele sat at the break table, eating a chocolate bar.

“What’s up, Margie? You look beat,” she said.

“I feel beat, but then, what’s new?” I slid into the folding chair across the table from Adele.

“Still not sleeping, huh?”

I had been telling Adele for weeks how exhausted I felt.

“You need to exercise, girl. Gets that metabolism moving. And have some more coffee to perk you up!”

I reached for the coffee pot and filled my cup, adding sweetener and a packet of creamer. Adele shoved a candy bar across the table at me.

“And have some chocolate. Lots of anti-oxidants in it. Good for you. Energy, too.”

“You know I can’t resist chocolate. I’m already eating more than enough to anti-oxidize my body, whatever that means,” I said. I kept a regular stash of chocolate bars on the top shelf in the kitchen at home, just above the spices.

I ate the candy bar and drank two cups of coffee with Adele. The fuzz gradually cleared from my brain. I felt better.

After that day, I developed a routine of de-fuzzing my brain every few hours by having a couple of cups of coffee and a candy bar. Then I’d stop by the gym on the way home to work off the sugar and try to kick up my metabolism. I wished I could kick it up to where it had been in my twenties, but I’d given up hope. I felt less tired at work with the coffee and chocolate routine, but my metabolism didn’t seem to be revving up. Worst of all, I still couldn’t sleep.

(Watch for Part 2 of this 6 part story on Monday)

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