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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Filed under Susan Gibb

4 responses to “State of Being by Susan Gibb

  1. Playful, funny, adorable; loved the name Herman—, who played the tuba, this state of being hyper-awake or practically sleepwalking through life, it makes me wonder about people I see on the street. Are they awake or asleep? Wonderful story

  2. Considering I’m reading this in bed at 5:30 a.m. I think the ratio is about 50/50 in my house. :)

    The part about the sleepy wife being a good driver made me a little nervous. Nicely written.

  3. I’d never really thought about people defined as existing on the extremes of sleep — but it makes excellent sense. The unusual details ascribed to the characters — the funny name, the tuba, the ability to drive 8 hours straight — makes this story special. Peace…

  4. Pingback: Week #15 – Sleep « 52|250 A Year of Flash

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