Thursday, October 28, 2010
a short story by Ivy Parker
A person will die from total lack of sleep sooner than from starvation. Death will occur about 10 days without sleep, while starvation takes a few weeks.
Iona couldn't sleep. Maybe it was restless leg syndrome. Or the first graders from her class that annoyed her in her dreams. Maybe it was the jingle she could often hear in the middle of the dark night as a reminder that the janitor at school might be an axe murderer, like the other teachers at school told her.
Then she'd start to wonder. Were the doors locked? Would the cat try to get in their room? She did not like waking up with a furry Mane Coon on her chest.
"When you can't sleep. I can't sleep." Simple as that, her husband Max informed her. He told her about his stress too. There were college students who thought he had no business being at the community college as a professor. Wasn't he a has-been rocker? Who only had a few musical notes left on his chest as tattoos. No one took him seriously at song writing.
"And your point?" She needed more sleep than he did. She had children to worry over. She had real problems to deal with. These were little demons she had to deal with. She'd already been kicked in the shins and some little boy bit her butt. She did have on bicycle shorts under her jumper, at the time, so she hadn't came down with anything.
He said there was no need to fuss. While she prepared for a night that might end in disaster (one never knew how to exactly dress in case of a fire.. If she'd had armor she would have wore it.) Max wore nothing at all. He liked to be free when he slept.
"You always sleep." She insisted.
"I do not." But he didn't want to argue about it. He had other things on his mind. Like sex.
"No. no. no." She snapped. "That's all you think about. Isn't it?"
"And Cheetos. Pop tarts without frosting, and a good cheese mustard burger from Sonic." He smiled patiently.
Iona crossed her arms, laid there in bed.
"Fine." He rolled his back to her.
"You can't leave me alone like this." She was in a huff then. She looked at the clock. It was well after mid-night. The clock ticked-ticked-ticked.
"I'm right here? What is wrong now?" He didn't look back at her. She stared at the back of his thick head of hair. Iona took a deep breath and finally looked at the ceiling.
She felt something move the bed then. It wasn't Max.
"What was that?" She rose up on her elbows.
"It was you. What do you think?" Max just said without moving. He laid still.
Iona shuttered to think someone or something might be under the bed. She'd take a look. She sat at the edge of the bed.
"What?" Iona winced. Well, since he said that, she had too. She took a look under the bed. There were only dust bunnies.
"You know what you do, when you do that?" He said all monotone.
"What?" She winced.
"First its the broom. Then its the vacuum. You keep me up, all night with your freak'n cleaning." He rolled back and put his hands behind his head and watched her, standing there as if she needed to do this.
"You know, I hate housework." She was serious.
"Yes, I know." They had a sink piled with dishes and boxes of recyclables in the livingroom waiting for crafts to be made by 6 year olds. "Sometimes, I wonder if there could be two people inside you. The one who goes to work and this one that comes out, after midnight." He winced.
"Don't be silly." She swelled a frown.
"To bad you can't be a witch and you could turn me into a stead and ride me all night long." He let a laugh slip then.
"There you go again." She stood there with her arms crossed.
"I know. Sorry. Come back to bed. Just be calm. You'll see. Sleep might set in." He patted her side of the bed.
Iona would try to make an effort. She would. So she laid next to him.
"Do you ever dream of her?" Iona looked at Max then.
"Not very often." Max slightly shrugged. "You mean the ghost?"
"No, Lady Gaga." Iona sighed. "Yes, the ghost." They'd both dreamed of the college student's murder that had to have happened in this very room 10 years ago or so. It was frightening to think how she,an slender African American girl with a wild afro, painted the walls with her own blood with one hand, a line streaked across the wall, before she died. It was ghastly.Of course, it was gone now. It gave Iona shivers, just imagining it. She looked in the twilight at the the empty wall.
"Is that why you can't sleep?" Max put his arm around Iona.
"Suppose." Iona wasn't certain. Maybe.
"I think she likes us." Max pushed his fingers through Iona's hair.
"How can you be so sure? We don't even know her name. We don't even know who killed her. No one seems to even know." Iona shivered slightly.
"I remember, how they made fun of you when you went to the library and even went down to the police station to ask about where we lived. They just said there had been a meth lab here. That's all." Max reminded her. He rubbed her back then. She was finally still. It was as if something was trying to catch her last breath or she was falling into something.
Iona's eye sprang open. She knew who was under the bed this time. Beneath the floorboards.