Week #15 – Sleep

Welcome! Here is this week’s Flash, posted in the order received.

The theme is Sleep.

Ri-chan by Guy Yasko

Where Do Dreams Come From? by Kevin Myrick

It was bedtime, and Benny was sleepy but doing his routine where he didn’t want to go to sleep yet. He wanted to ask me questions, even after a bedtime story and to get up to use the bathroom. I indulged him, like I always did. Then he asked me where dreams came from.

I began to tell him the story of how dreams were made. “One night, a smart man named Mr. James Walter Waterstone of Broadbottom, England, sat down and started thinking about a whole new concept that would change humanity forever. It didn’t have a name, but he tinkered with powders and medicines until finally he concocted the perfect formula. He called it “dreams” and he took the concoction one night and by the morning he remembered fantastic things happening to him.”

“That’s not true Daddy,” Benny said. The boy was smart, could see through these bedtime stories without trouble. “Tell me Daddy: where do dreams come from?”

“They come from inside your head,” I said. “They are sometimes about good things and sometimes about bad things. And its OK to be scared about the bad things, but you know what?”

He shrugged, like he always did at bedtime.

“The bad things aren’t real. They are only in your head.”

“But there are real bad things in this world, right Daddy?”

“Yes,” I said. “But you know what?”

Another shrug.

“I’m going to do my best to keep anything bad from happening to you,” I lied.

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Pillow by Matt Potter

The man lying beside me – did I remember his name? – cradled the pillow, snoring.

Morning sun peppered his three-day growth.

And then, he broke the reverie: a guffaw, long and low and rolling. His eyes opened. “I was just dreaming about you,” he said, sleepy-voiced. “What’s for breakfast?”

“Breakfast is not included,” I said, hospitality affronted.

I walked naked into the kitchen. Marie sat at the table, coffee cup in hand. She was as pretty as the day I had married her.

She set the cup down and pushed her blonde bob behind her ears as I pulled a chair out and sat opposite.

“When is this need for constant confirmation of your sexual attractiveness going to stop, Barry?” she said. “It’s getting a bit lame.”

“I’m not even forty yet,” I snapped. “So it’s got a way to go.” I stood up. And there I had been thinking how pretty she still was!

“I just don’t think this is the best environment to be bringing up children,” she added. And paused. A smirk played on her lips. And her eyes sparked.

I rushed back into the bedroom. “Get dressed!” I said. “We’re going out for breakfast – my shout. I’m going to be a father!”

I threw clothes at his startled face and jumped into my jeans.

Marie stood in the doorway. “Hey,” she said. “I’m just thinking of getting a dog.”

“Oh,” said the man. And a guffaw, long and low and rolling, escaped his lips again.

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Somewhere In Between by Heather Taylor

There are only a few ways to be born: head straight out, breech, Caesarean. There are countless ways to die, some unimaginable, and sometimes death comes before birth in which case the baby is stillborn. Sleep lies somewhere in between.

The dictionary says it is “a natural periodic state of rest during which consciousness of the world is lost.” The body seems to stay put on the bed, the mattress, the hammock. Yet the mind is on full power dreaming. It isn’t lying on the mattress with you.

The mind is more conscious when it is asleep. It doesn’t have to deal with the distractions of being awake: there’s no need to hold back that fart that’s been threatening; there’s no dried bugger itching the inside of your nostril, no urgent need to pee. No one is talking to you forcing you to listen.

During sleep the mind tells us where we are between birth and death. It tells us in dreams. If we can’t handle that knowledge we either don’t remember our dreams or can’t attach meaning to them.

People who are prepared for their own funerals are those who can navigate their dreams. Those who deny their dreams attach nightmares to their days.

We are what we dream.

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Morpheus by Catherine Russell

The golden youth sat upright, drenched with sweat, silken bedsheets coiled tightly round his muscular frame. His brothers held each other to keep from doubling over with laughter. Wiping the sleep from his eyes, Morpheus glared at his fellow triplets.

“Ha. Ha. Very funny.” He hung his feet over the side of the bed and kicked his two brothers, who promptly fell.

“Yeah, it is,” assured Phobetor, wiping tears from his eyes as he struggled to disentagle his wings from those of his brother. “Right, man?”

The other god chuckled, brushing himself off as rose from the floor.

“Seriously guys, can’t you play a different joke every century of so?” Morpheus spread his own wings and dried himself with a snap of his fingers. “Give it a rest.”

Phantasos folded his arms across his chest and sighed. “But that’s just it, bro. The god of sleep can’t get a good night’s sleep… It’s just too good to pass up.”

“What makes you think I won’t do the same to you?” said Morpheus.

“Because you never have,” said Phobetor. “Face it. Nightmares are our specialty. You just don’t have it in you, dude.”

“What are you going to do? Throw poppies at us?” said Phantasmos, glancing at the vase next to the ivory bed.

Morpheus smirked. “Nope. I’ll do something better.”

His brothers exchanged a worried look.

“I’ll tell Uncle.”

THE END

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Dream Catcher by Matthew A. Hamilton

I dream of lolly pops and
angel dust,

fairy land.

The sweet smell of opium races through my
infected nose.

The sun is made of gold.
Devil eyes burn.

The moon is filled
with cracks of blue mix.

Wild things crawl under my bed. I
can hear them.

“What do they sound like?” the doctor asks.

“They sound like nothing,” I say.

“Nothing is something,” he says.

The holes in my bruised arms are battle wounds
of a rehabilitated street corner.

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Resume of a Thirty-or-so-Hour Day by Randal Houle

06:00 – Shit, shower, shave. One hour commute to my telemarketing job.

07:15 – Exactly seven and one half hours until I can be myself again.

15:30 – Boss’ office. Told to improve or I will be replaced.

17:00 – Drive to next job, eat fast food while editing client’s videotape.

23:30 – Watch David Letterman.

02:30 – Wake up, startled. Run three paper routes.

05:00 – Car, coffee, commute. Back to telemarketing job for Saturday shift.

06:00 – Cannot find office. I usually take MAX from a Park and Ride, but it doesn’t run at this hour.

06:30 – Still driving around downtown, looking for landmarks and parking. Three young men stand on a steep porch — one throws a package through a waiting car window. The driver sees me. I ignore it.

06:45 – I have no idea where I am. I slow down to get a better look at the buildings. The same car pulls up the opposite side of street. A kid runs the package up a flight of stairs. The driver and I make eye contact. My heart pounds. I slam on the accelerator.

07:00 – I park. I’m tired.

15:30 – End of shift, my boss tells me he’ll give me another week. I tell him he can have his week back, I won’t need it.

15:45 – I pull into traffic. The car drives funny. The two rear tires are flat. Still really tired.

19:00 – Tires replaced, commute finished, I fall into bed.

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State of Being by Susan Gibb

I knew a man who never slept. Who never lived within that blank space of time between drifting off and waking up again. His name, as odd as he, was Herman Merkelmutter.

We were roommates back at MIT. After college we lost touch. I heard he married a woman in Ohio who wrote novels and played a tuba. I think about him now and then and would love to sit down and have a conversation about his inability to suspend his consciousness. Whether he spent his wakefulness in any form of restful rejuvenation. If a slowdown of his brain waves was enough.

My wife Lisa is the librarian at the university where I teach third year creative writing. She’s never been completely awake. The library is the perfect place for her. She’s completely functional and people don’t realize that she’s asleep. She’s a good driver and that’s a plus on long trips.

I’m an eight hours of sleep kind of guy. I get a bit dopey with too much sleep and very grouchy in a bout of too little. It all works out well enough. There are probably hundreds, maybe thousands of people who remain at the extremes of sleep or wakefulness simultaneously. Just as the rest of us are at the extremes of being fully one and later, the other. As a matter of fact, I’m sure we all know a few.

Stop what you’re doing, look around. Who is sleeping? Who is awake?

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Crash by Michael Webb

There’s two kinds of sleepless, I thought- can’t sleep because of overscheduling, and can’t sleep because of overthinking. I do tend to overthink- certainly that plays a role in my life. But it’s usually the first kind- too many demands chasing too few hours, causing me to walk around in a semi- aware haze. I have, blessedly, seldom been unable to sleep- being able to drop off, nearly on command, has proven an asset, as well as a detriment to family life or long, complex films.

Sleep, when it comes, comes in a rush like an orgasm. You’re not sleeping-you’re inside your head, thinking, tracing the action in the room with your ears, then suddenly you’re gone. It’s fundamentally frightening-you have your consciousness, which is really everything you are, yanked away, and whole blocks of time just vanish. I guess that’s why I hate it- that, and the vague badge of honor sleeplessness brings in modern society. It’s a way to say, “See how hard I’m working?”

There is a horrible ripping noise above my left shoulder, metal being torn and burned, and a shower of sparks, some of which land on my pants. They glow on my motionless legs for a moment, then wink out. An Irish face fills my field of view. “We’re going to get you right out of there, sir,” he says with a flat voice.

“No problem,” I say, tangled in the wreckage of my car. “I’m not going anywhere.”

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Armstrong Lust by Steven Stucko

I saw Buzz Aldrin’s penis last year [average]. We were at adjacent urinals at Foxwoods casino, struck up a conversation and decided to have a drink: soda (we’re both sober). It was hard not to be all gee-whizzy and gush a thousand questions as we saluted green cheese (he: lol), we settled in and he indulged me a few. Yes they did have Tang. Yes, all their food came in tubes, and no, he wasn’t scared. Apparently, one can not pass gas in space, a fact (he offered!) which I found gross -TMI Buzz.

I told him about the koi fish pond I dug in Vermont and he shared about his bonsai woes. He said I should check out his rap song with Snoop Doggy Dogg; I thought he was joking but no – go Google it. I told him I had a crush on Neil Armstrong. He said: “We all did.” He signed a few autographs but I gave people the evil-eye and they stayed away.

I asked Buzz if he regretted anything about his monumental voyage and he said: “Sleep.” He told me he was up for over forty hours and was getting delusional. “Houston wouldn’t let me sleep!”

We shook hands and he fake walked away like he was kind of bouncing in low gravity (me: lol). Now whenever I stare at the moon I think how my man Buzz just wanted a tube of Oreos and a tube of milk and a little nap.

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Endless Lullaby by Angel Sharum

“Daddy?”
“Shhh, baby, it’s ok, go back to sleep,” Todd whispered as he picked up the pillow beside his daughter’s head.

He watched while his daughter grabbed her favorite rabbit, snuggled down into the covers and settled back to sleep. Dropping to his knees, Todd prayed. He prayed for his family and himself. He prayed for an end to the violence and craziness of the world, but mostly he prayed for the strength to do what he had to do.

Once sure his daughter was deeply asleep, Todd rose. He gently placed the pillow over her face and pressed downward. She started to fight immediately, but he held firm, tears streaming down his face, staining the pillowcase.

Todd ignored her muffled pleas. He was sure he was doing what must be done. He could not allow his daughter to grow up in a world as morally bankrupt as this one. Awash in pain and unable to listen to his daughter’s anguished cries any longer, Todd began to sing.

Sleep, my child, and peace attend thee,
All through the night;
Guardian angels God will send thee…

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Little Shut-Eye by Linda Simoni-Wastila

Sweet Jesus, what’s that boy doing in there – taking a bubble bath? This one’s weird, cleaning himself before and after, but now he’s gotta go, before Keshon comes for his money. I strap on my new shoes, all glittery red. They make my legs look real good. “A gift for my best sugar doll,” Keshon said. Well he better find himself another doll cuz I’m outta here, mama’s gonna take my sorry ass back. I rub the locket she gave me, for luck, my only goodness inside, and stretch on the mattress for a little shut-eye.
**

In between ambulances the medic mutters, “Worse than fucking Afghanistan.” I’ve no idea, all I know is I’m 36 hours straight running triage on gang-bangers ODing on whatever crap they shoot up their veins. I need some goddamn sleep, but gurneys line the hall from here to Timbuktu, this one with a ridiculous red shoe wedged between sheeted feet. Still conscious, brown eyes stare at me, wide, scared. I should pat her hand, comfort her but there’s no time, another ambulance pulled into the bay. Besides, with all those stab wounds no way I’m betting on her odds anyway.

**

He studies the body, measures the depth and width of each slash. The camera flashes. No ID, no clothes, clean tox screens, just like the other prostitutes in the mortuary. Only a single stiletto and a necklace. He photographs the infant smiling from the locket before pressing his hand over the dead girl’s open eyes.

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Reluctant Insomniac by Derin Attwood

Six long days and six long nights. I’m so tired. Every sound burrows into my head. It vibrates and ricochet’s through my brain. My head aches. I keep losing my train of …

It’s light outside and I want to sleep.

Of course it’s light. It’s daytime, fool. Sleep? You can’t sleep during the day.

Seven long days and seven nights. I’m tired. I have a headache. I don’t sleep when it’s light and I don’t sleep at night. I can’t keep it up.”

Maybe whiskey will help. Or vodka. Gin or rum.

I’ve run out. It didn’t help. I’m still awake. WIDE AWAKE with a hangover. Sounds get louder and louder and louder.

Eight long days and nights. My head aches. I keep losing …

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Dimension #4 by Dorothee Lang

There are dogs howling that night, pulling her awake when all she wants is to stay asleep. There is something else outside, too, at least that’s how it feels when she stands at the window and looks into the dark. The dogs still linger when she lays down again and drifts back to the land of night, into a dream that isn’t from a place she’s been to before.

In the dream, she is with three others. They stand in the middle of a vast, desert landscape. In a distance, there is one single building, huge, with a glass dome in the middle. They walk up to the building, and enter through the open gate. Inside, it’s silence. They walk around, looking for someone, for something to give them a clue. But all the rooms are empty. It feels like walking through the empty halls of a civilization that has faded, without a trace: endless floors of nothingness.

Finally, they reach the glass dome. There are tables underneath it, with a view to the dome, and to the different levels of the building. They take a seat. It feels like being in a solar cafe, only that there is no one else.

Later, people appear. They pass their table without saying a word. As if they couldn’t see them, couldn’t notice them. As if they were in the same place, but in another dimension, or another dream.

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Sleep by Susan Tepper

He buys you bagels and cream cheese and tells you to sleep more. How can that make you sleep? You want a pink blanket with a satin edge and a womb to curl up inside. It’s too cold out there. Icicles line the chimney making smoke impossible. But the fireplace makes you cough and summer is only a shadow with fangs. You want a dog, maybe a cat, you want things that haven’t been invented. It’s a lost world. The shape of things to come don’t match your mind. You dream of mountains flown over when it was exciting to see George Washington and those others carved into rock. Now there is nothing left to please you. Nothing but your fist against a wall. He comes in with the bagel on a tray. A single red rose in a water glass.

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3 a. m. by Kim Hutchinson

In the green morning
I wanted to be a heart.
A heart.

Ditty of First Desire
Federico Garcia Lorca

The clock glares, red-faced and angry.

I roll away in search of a new position, trying to feel my way to deep mystery, but dreams elude me.

When I was a child, I walked in my sleep. As an adult, I slept while awake. I walked, talked, ate, worked, unaware of my surroundings, unable or unwilling to see reality.

I tried different beds. They were too hard or too soft.

Alone, I always felt the pea.

Now I pray for the rolling crash of thunder, plead for a blessed sleep. I crave the joy of waking to the clean scent of a fresh world.

It’s not to be. Not today. Not tomorrow. Or next week.

I shift my pillow and picture a distant green morning.

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INTERLUDE by Ramon Collins

Red neon flashed through the window, where the worn drape didn’t quite meet the wall. Linda leaned on an elbow and watched the flicker on Rick’s bare shoulder.

“Do you really love me?”

Rick forced his left eye open. “Uh — I sure did there a minute ago.”

“Rick, I’m serious.”

“So am I.”

Linda swung her legs off the bed, sat up and stared at the wet gleam on
her inner thighs. “I mean, where are we going?”

“Dunno about you, but I’m goin’ to sleep.”

“For chrissake.” She stood and padded toward the bathroom.

Rick rolled his head on the pillow. “Nice ass.”

She paused and wiggled. “How’d you like to kiss it?”

The bathroom door slammed.

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The All-Nighter by Elizabeth Kate Switaj

Kayla thew her head down and pressed her tear ducts. Why had the eyedrops started to sting so much? Overuse?

She sat down at her desk again, opened and closed a book without noticing which one she had picked up, and glanced over her printed paper without reading it. Her alarm clock said 4:01, her laptop 4:02. A month ago, she would have been able to see the first hints of light in the sky; now, she kept her drapes closed. She needed to sleep, but it was too late. The first four hours were for nightmares now, and she needed to be in class by eight.

The alarm would wake her up. She’d tremble, maybe cry out. If she was lucky, she wouldn’t remember his weight pressing her down. In dreams it broke her bones, burst lung, heart, liver . . . No, Kayla, don’t think about that. Pour more coffee from the French press.

His hand burst out of the dark brew. She dropped her mug and scalded her thighs but hardly noticed that pain for the roughness of his hand against her mouth and the taste of blood as her lips were pushed back against her screaming teeth.

Kayla lifted her head from the desk and slammed the alarm off. She shivered in the boiling shower. But she made it to class on time and turned in her essay. He’d taken her nights. She would never let him have the day.

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Waiting and half asleep by Doug Bond

It is late, again. And I hear
the restless, clopping
footsteps in the apartment
upstairs. Bathroom water
rushing through our
shared walls.
Their life marching
past me in the hall
twelve feet above.

Expecting soon, clearly,
any day now. And they are
older, even than us,
bringing a new life
to light in the narrow
passageways of these
identical, stacked
railroad flats.

A chair leg skitters.
Or is it a night stand,
perhaps a clock hitting
the floor? Furnishings,
I can only imagine,
I really don’t know them.

Or maybe
she’s forgotten
the layout of the
things on their floor
with her belly grown
so big.

My wife lies
flannel wrapped
and lightly snoring,
a pillow rolled
between us
for her back.

Outside
I hear the shudder
of an idled bus,
the sound of car doors
being opened.

Waiting and half asleep.

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Sleep by Darryl Price

Sandcrestbladeupsidedowngreen
Clearcloselivestherethere
Thereherelightlightspeople
Mushroomstreesstarshousescows
Nobiggerthansandsalt

Gogoingwanttobe
Inbothplaceslikerefracted
Trianglesofcolortracingback
Andforththemiracleof
Usallofusall

Thingsthereisnounseeing
Onlyunbeingonlyunkindnessinstead
Ofairwaterearthhoney
Dripsoutofeverypore
Likethebestsexever.

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2 Shards by Stephen Hastings-King

1

Part of an arrangement of trapezoids and triangles, lines and loops I move across the water.

The sky is a field of cracks. Pieces come loose and fall. Some land on the deck.

Nearby string musicians play the same chord again and again. They sing the same phrase again and again. Something about a spirit. Their heads are turned away.

Beyond the holes in the sky is a map of the stars.

2

Asleep on a schooner dreaming I am on a schooner. A transistor radio below sprays an ant colony of voices, an everywhere haze of tiny grey lines. I move through its eddies and flows, dead spots and gardens. My movements open environments.

There is a trajectory painted on the grass: I follow it along a long white rail fence that separates one pasture from another. At the end of the fence a small solar panel, its edges an intermittent painted frame around an assemblage of irregular forms suspended in electric blue amber.

When I correlate the forms they give way to aspects of a ghost room. Packages of continuity piled and numbered and noted. Schematics on the walls and tables. I wait for its surfaces to stabilize and spread myself across them like rain.

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Sleep the Ferryman by Al McDermid

Sleep views the world at right angles and has never seen a rainbow. He lives by the river where he was once a ferryman, in shack that he built from railroad ties, orange crates, and old typewriters. The shack is not plumb and groans in the wind. When it rains, he sits under its tin roof and listens to the symphony. Sometimes it plays Chopin, other times, Beethoven. He wishes it would play more Mahler, but the roof never plays the same piece twice. He thinks that were he to get a new roof, maybe he could hear some of his favorites one more time.

Sleep once took passengers across the river for a price. He might ask for food, or a fishing fly, or a fool-me-once, but he’d take almost anything as long as the name of that thing began with ‘f’. He traded these for the other letters that he needed. A German tourist once offered his wife, who in turn offered to set fire to the shack. When Sleep declined her offer, she suggested a fusillade. Sleep took them for free; they fought with each other all the way across.

When anyone took Sleep’s ferry, they’d get to the other side, but it could be anywhere on the other side. That was before the rains stopped and river dried up. Sleep now just sits in his shack, waiting to hear Mozart.

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Living Forever in Bright Olympus by Kelly Grotke

Ah, but they are stubborn, these two. She sat at the river’s edge and began to fold the piece of paper she’d carried down, over and once more and just another time will be enough but no, so again and again until it was as small and silent as it was ever going to be. And then there was nothing more to do.

She threw it into the water.

The mind is such a libertine when it pleases. Were there two? Because it was only one who had written. No, there must be two, certainly two. How else to explain the discord, and then this endless stream of stories.

Not that she read them anymore, now the rituals had begun.

Because the words recalled dark chaos and sometimes even a single one was too much like the sun going down and this confused her sense of time and meaning. Yes, two of them. It had to be. To think otherwise would be to imagine something divided against itself, and that was no longer possible.

She lay back smiling in the grass, fingered the long scar on her thigh, and waited for sleep.

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Cause—Effect—Cause by Bernard Heise

Sleep. I can’t.
Why?
Alcohol – much too much.
Drinking began yesterday.
Crashed car and burned house.
You left.
I destroyed
everything. Everything
destroyed. I
left you.
House burned and car crashed
yesterday. Began drinking
much too much alcohol.
Why
can’t I sleep?

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& this is why & this why you can’t sleep by Ryder Collins

If you’re living in ——— and almost thirty and haven’t succeeded/moved away, you’re screwed. You’ll be drinking til three, four, in the morning, even if you have a someone. & if you’re single, don’t try looking. There’s too many young things ready and waiting for someone to come tell them what to do, some man to wear little things for. If you’re a woman and living in ——— you probably can’t wear mini-skirts anymore cos the city diet, if you’re almost thirty and alone and working food service or whatever, is some cheesy goodnesses washed down with eight-nine beers; then, for dessert, a couple, three, ten lines of coke so you can drink more beer or move on to bourbon and stay out past bartime in a bar where you know or are or own the bartender, drinking more beer or doing shots of Maker’s or, if you’ve been doing this for ten years plus, you’ve switched to some pussy shot, like schnapps, pepperminting to masquerade unclean, coke-tightened enamel. Although who knows why you care what your breath smells like or teeth feel like at four in the morning in ———–, especially in wintertime. When four in the afternoon feels like four in the morning anyways and nothing ever changes. Except the girls get younger, your skirts get longer, your jaw throbs from clenching and you no longer smoke Marb Reds but some other brand of light cigarette. Cos, no matter what anyone says, Marlboro Lights taste like shit.

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The type of people awake in the middle of the night by Martin Brick

People say you’ll appreciate every second they sleep, but that’s not true. They sleep too soundly. Motionless. It deceives you. Janet had woken up too many times, looked over with a conscious mind that said this was ridiculous, a stomach full of dread when she touches… He was always warm, no matter how cold he looked.

“I don’t like him in the bed with us,” she told Alex.

“But he doesn’t stay asleep when we move him.”

“I’m afraid of smothering him,” was something she couldn’t bring herself to verbalize.

So she took to sleeping on the couch. Then she took to walking, at night while the rest of the world dozed.

One house always had a light on. Janet found comfort in this. A comrade. A fellow sleepless soul. She made sure her route passed that house each night.

She noticed things. Toys in the yard. Infant swing hanging from a tree. Exer-saucer on the side porch.

And she notice the figure inside. A man. He sat in the same place every night. With a bottle next to him.

She noticed only one car. And the toys never moved.

One night she rang the bell, and when he wordlessly answered, she said, “I understand. I understand what happened. I know why you drink and why you live alone.”

He said, “You can’t understand.”

“I do. We’re the same.”

“I seriously doubt that.” His face showed doubt, curiosity, hope, and something like hunger.

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Sleepwalk by Guy Yasko

I

From behind broken glass the morning sky reads time to go. The
Undergraduate pulls himself off his mattress and splashes himself with
cold water from the sink above the stairs. On his way down from the
attic he steps only above the risers, stepping easier once out the door
and on concrete. He heads up the street, across the schoolyard, on to
the footpaths through the park. The sequence and spacing of mud and
puddles reminds him he used the same paths as a schoolboy. Past the
park, he walks the alleys, envying intact carriage house windows,
savouring the solitude of the walk.

II

Middle-aged and long since graduated he can not shut off his mind. It
skitters from worry to worry, pain to pain: children, work, no work,
money, women, worry itself. There is no question of sleep; he sits awake
if only to keep his mind on other things. He goes to bed when his body
can no longer support itself.

Head on pillow, he retrieves memories of the attic room and the view of
the winter sky. He intends to move sequentially: from window to sink to
cold water… the iron stains under the taps, the steps from the attic,
the girl who read to him when he was sick. He walks through alleys,
savouring each carriage house, bisecting each memory with more intricate
detail, never arriving

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Dead Tired by Walter Bjorkman

In the land of Nosleep the natives are restless. The new neighbor on the block was building an addition to his house, a section about two-hundred sqft jutting out the side. Every house in the land was the same, an 800 sqft house that contained the same rooms: a kitchen, two bathrooms and a common living area with tables for eating, chairs for sitting and large screens for entertainment, lining all three of the room’s walls.

The new neighbors were friendly enough, warmly accepting the standard kneepads given as housewarming gifts, and taking part in the weekend communal feed trough gatherings. They gathered to watch and cheer along the Ikea Cribbage Championships Bowl, the county’s biggest sport for the last decade (previously it had been water pistol fights and before that thumb twirling).

One night after it was finished, the Mayor, concerned, went out and looked through this strange piece of glass that opened to the inside. There he saw the mysterious couple, naked and seemingly dead on a cushioned slab.

Then a gruff unearthly sound came from the male. He arose from the dead, walked into the bathroom, came back and seemed to die again within a few minutes!

The Mayor ran away in confusion and utter fear of this couple’s strange power. He never mentioned it at the next weekend’s chow-down on BBQed groats when the couple showed up quite alive and well. He took it to his own grave, vowing to avoid them until that very day to ask them how they do it.

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Keep breathing by John Wentworth Chapin

While you sleep, I wait for you to die. These months, all these months! They wear on me. I don’t want you to die – you must know that. I don’t even fucking believe in God, but I pray just in case. I want the lifeguards and policemen and hall monitors to really get it when I say that I don’t want you to die. When you do die, I don’t want to be caught unawares. I don’t dare expect it, but I can’t help waiting for it.

That this could happen has been hideously clear since that first electric moment of I’m pregnant when I stopped in the hallway in my ragged tightie-whities with a “?” and she said “!” and I thought about all the reasons she might have to trap me – there are so many fucked-up untrue stories that it’s hard to disbelieve all of them. True fact: since I was ten I wanted a kid more than a pony or a Mustang. When everyone else wanted to be a cowboy or fireman, I wanted to be a father.

Keep breathing.

You sleep, but you must breathe. Every time they smeared the ultrasound jelly above you, I knew you’d be stiff, unresponsive – but each time your heartbeat grew stronger. Now the gates threaten to close on your infancy. They mustn’t close on the wrong side of you: for then I will die.

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Time to Rest by Michelle Elvy

One grey day the earth decided to sleep. The mighty mountains shrugged their rounded shoulders and sighed a great necessary sigh. The wide seas sucked their liquid breath in and out in deep soothing swells. The earth turned inward. Oil stopped flowing. The flat plains coughed a dry cough and the mantis-like machines creaked to a halt. The ocean floor sneezed a satisfying sneeze and swallowed the drilling platforms whole. People who lived on the planet scurried around noisily looking for shelter, and those who could took flight to new frontiers. Some – the quiet ones – stayed behind, and made peace with the sleeping mother.

Soon, all activity ceased and the only thing audible was the sound of sleep in a world that emerged ecstatic with fragrance and color. Tiare and jasmine shouted happy stories across continents, magnolias made mad love as their roots stretched deep into the wet fertile soil, while sequoia and kauri reached with their arms toward heaven.

And the mighty mountains sighed, and the wide seas heaved.

And the earth dreamed blue-green dreams.

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The Editors of 52|250 wish to thank Guy Yasko for his drawing this week, Ri-chan. We asked Guy about his cat, and this is what he said:

“She had a devilish side to her which came out in the way
she ripped the heads off mice and hunted nightingales. Sometimes it came out in her eyes, as it does here. Like most cats, she never stayed in one pose for very long. Fortunately, I had brush, ink, and a paper grocery bag at my side when she struck this pose; had I gone for better paper, I probably wouldn’t have been able to catch her
expression.”

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Filed under Wk #15 - Sleep

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