Can I Just Sleep? Please?

Pain

Sybil (what?)

Pain

Sybil (WHAT???)

Take your pick. My night was destroyed by a game of tag played by my still healing broken foot and that bitch “The Change”, aka Sybil. She put on the “I’m wide awake” persona at about 11:00 last night. Warm and Sleepy character was kicked out into the cold dark night and I desperately wanted to sleep, but it was not meant to be.

I took my vitamins and a dose of melatonin and went to bed to read some Harry Potter. Reading, a fan in a cool room, warming up in bed will sometimes allow Warm and Sleepy to come back for an encore. At 1:00 a.m. (THIS morning) I was a little teeny tiny bit sleepy. Light off, cell phone on vibrate, warm covers. I was ready.

Hey! I’m reaaaady!!! Nothin’.

Turn over, arm out of the covers, cross my feet, heavy sigh. Yeah. Let’s do this. Drifting….

BAM! Pain kicks in. Wrapping around the top of my foot to the back of my heal like  a hot cable searing through the muscle into the bone. My eyes shot open, sucking in air as I wince in pain, I shift again. Move the foot to the cool sheets, but that doesn’t do it. Toss, turn switch, cross, uncross, adjust. Nothin’. Like the tick of a grandfather clock the pain ticks and tocks away at my foot and my sleep.

Hot bath. Reading in the hot bath. That’s it! That always works. Grabbing Harry Potter and my “Old Lady Reading Glasses” (Thanks Sybil) I head to the bathroom and draw a scalding, steamy, wonderful tub of water nirvana. I climb in and hope to find my Life Melted, and the pain chased away.

Sweating, reading, relaxing and ready. I climb out, dry off get back in my jammies and bed. Determination is the only reason I finally found sleep sometime after 3:00 a.m. Of course, there were the intermittent appearances by Sybil’s hot and sweaty friend “Blaze”.

Sound sleep had me deep in it’s grip at 10:20 a.m. when My Captain woke me up and asked if I was going to Mass (which is at 11:00 a.m.) Of course, I was. I’m a good Catholic girl, and my good Catholic girl Blossom would be there for retrieval (she spent the night with her cousins). Coffee and Aleve gave me the necessary kick start.

So today, Super Bowl Sunday, a day where we invited family over for fabulous ribs slathered with my Super Mad BBQ sauces and chicken cooked on our Weber smoker, had the potential of being derailed by Sybil and Pain. I found my “go to hell I’m going to pretend like you’re not here” self, and managed to get the baked beans in the oven, the Bacon and Bleu Coleslaw assembled and some much needed cleaning done.

I soldiered through the day, and ended up having a pretty darn good day in spite of  the lousy night of sleep. We enjoyed a fantastic meal and drank some beer, cheered for whoever looked like the right team to cheer for, and laughed and scratched our heads at  the Super Bowl commercials.

With the day behind me and the week ahead,  Sybil and Pain you need to stay the hell out of my bed tonight. I want and need a good night of sleep and you are not welcome.

Love and Velcro

Sitting quietly in her reading corner surrounded by books and embraced comfortably in her soft familiar chair, a pensive Emma closed her eyes and remembered sixteen.

For the last two years, mornings before school was the time of day when it was quiet. In the cramped kitchen she carefully slid past the tattered kitchen chair, with the torn vinyl that scratched and dug the back of your leg. She hated that chair. Etched in her brain, is the memory, like a photo that never fades, of her dead mother sitting in it, head slumped, and a needle wobbling in the crook of her elbow like one of those creepy bobble head toys. “Don’t touch it….” she told herself.

Dad was sleeping off the vodka from the night before. Waking him was like unleashing a nuclear weapon; it opened a floodgate of fury and violence she wanted to avoid so she crept out through the kitchen whose door didn’t screech. She carefully chose the spot for each step on each stair to preserve the hushed silence necessary for a quiet escape. She released the breath held to stifle fear and noise as the sidewalk is reached which leads square by square to Brewster’s Coffeehouse.

The new barrista was short on service and long on gab and the line was fittingly strung out, long and lackadaisical. Emma approached it dismayed at the necessity of waiting with others. The lean, respectable looking boy in front of her wore a navy blazer and pants, crisply pressed white shirt and red/yellow plaid tie; the uniform of Aquinas Academy.

Edgily he muttered “If I would have known this was going to take so long I would have brought a book.”

Perturbed because she was careful to keep her head down and stand sideways in line to avoid this sort of exchange, yet intrigued and skeptical by his statement. The suit boys are mostly empty, spider webby shells.

Smirking she asked “What are you reading?”

“Hemingway. For Who the Bell Tolls”

“For school?”

Pulling the book out of the stack he carried under his arm, he held it up and said, “Naw; If I didn’t read I’d lose my mind.”

“Wow. Pretty intense for casual reading.”

Lowering his head he chuckled “I’m reading my way through the school library. Lots of free time. Mom and dad work so I’m home alone a lot.” His brow furrowed when he said “Friends come and go, but my books, well they are always there when I need them.”

She was looking in his eyes. Dammit! People are suppose to think she’s a walking porcupine. Looking away

“Me too.

“Books that is.

“Best friend.

“My parents…

“Never mind.

“Hemingway is good. Finished him last summer. I’ve been working on Tolstoy. “

She glanced at him and the up turn on the corner of his mouth meant he knew her because she was like him. She felt the quills falling away as she felt a deep connection with this strange, stranger boy. She could feel her rough hooks zipping up in the soft loop side of his velcro. Different but they went together.

“Oh hey AA! Are you old enough to drink coffee? What do you think Sue? Is he old enough? What can I getcha kid?”

“Um, dry cappucino. No sugar.” Turning to ask Emma “What do you….?” but she was gone.

With the barista’s interruption, came a realization: Love and Emma are like sweet cream and spoiled milk; opposites. Ripping the velcro loose she quietly left.

Heart broken, it was time to find a new coffee shop.


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Another “chapter” in the life of Emma, this post was written from a prompt from RedWriting Hood:

“We all remember our first love – and our first heartbreak.

Your assignment this week was to write a piece where you explore the first broken heart for your character – or for you.”

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Better than Bad

She rolls over to escape the piercing brightness of the early morning sun that has found a breach in the blinds.

“Damnit! It’s my day off! Get OFF me!”

Frustrated at the intrusion into her sleep, she thrashes, attempting to prevent full awake and the sheet winds around her arm and over her head. Laying she grasps at the filmy feathers of dreamy sleep with eyes firmly shut, Emma realizes it’s useless; she’s awake and pissed.

Relenting, she throws the covers off and swings her legs over the side of the bed. Standing up, she arches her back, reaching her arms above her head, with hands bent back; she squeezes up high on her tip toes and flexes her legs taught and yawns so deep it hurts. Light headed from the intense wake up stretch, she works her way to the kitchen to brew coffee knowing once the brew begins and the deep, comforting smell floats into her senses she might shake off her foul mood.

With a cup of coffee comfortingly sweetened with her favorite creamer she creeps her way to her reading corner but realizes last night she’d polished off her last library book. This means she has to endure the suffering of leaving home to get more books. The outside world is tense and uncomfortable so being ready was critical to the success.

Thankful she didn’t have to wear the grocery store’s green apron with the creepy apple emblazoned on it, Emma chooses her “outside in the world” armor. She slides into her favorite black skinny jeans, falling apart but comfortable in all the right places, and an oversized black hoodie with a large paisley fleur-de-lis, shadowy and grey batiked on the back. Old black Chuck Taylors finish the dark cloaked desire to be unapproachable and invisible. At the front door she closes her eyes, mouth tight, she inhales deeply, then twists the knob, exhales and mutters “Here we go” and steps outside to make the walk to the library.

With hood up and hands in the pocket, she glances up and down to avoid people who find it necessary to greet her even when she wears her Sir Lancelot suit of armor. Intent on watching the perils ahead, she crosses the alley and unexpectedly something crashes into her. She struggles to pull her clenched fists out of her jacket to catch her balance. Her feet criss-cross and trip over each other as she grabs at the kid who’s not watching his own path.

Stunned by the collision the boy peers up at Emma wide-eyed looking as if he’s wondering ‘should I fight or run?’ Then recognition washes relief over the fearful “O” of his face when he sees her.

“Oh hey Emma! Whatcha doin’?”

The initial bristles of annoyance are clipped off when she realizes it’s the boy whose family lives in the apartment upstairs from her.

Yanking her hood off, “God Jakey! Watch where you’re going!”

Over time, Jakey has become one of the few granted access to Emma’s comfort zone. With the careless ease allowed by being six, he persistently winnowed his way in, ignorant of her crippling shy fear of people and places.

Neglect, fear and harm keep the boy outside. For him, pain and peril exist at home. When he explodes out of the apartment, he is free and happy, gliding through the world grateful there is an outside to escape to. It’s liberation from the barbwire words and blunt pain his unemployed, red raging dad inflicts.

In spite of the jolt her face fans into a wide grin “The library, wanna come?”

Punching his fist up he shouts “YEAH!”

Putting her hand out he latches on eagerly, leaping in the air, heels bumping his butt with happy and anticipation of the treat Emma was sharing with him. Jakey loves reading (an escape within his walls) and he loves Emma’s wondrous reading. She builds a world around them with enthusiastic words. Her voice takes them on a journey of unabashed happiness and trudges through menacing valleys.

Together they head off. The day began bad. Then it turned a corner and now it’s better than good; it’s great!

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Red Writing Hood – Happy Endings

This week’s prompt asked you to spread a little joy.

You were to write a piece where you or your character overcame a challenge and, even if it’s just for a moment, has a happy ending. We also asked you to surprise us – don’t go with the obvious.