Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Insomnia (Chapter One)

Despite my concerns of plagiarism or ridicule, I am going out on a limb here and posting the first chapter of the story that I have been working on. Not sure who all out there will be reading this, but know that it is close to my heart and taking up a lot of my time and energy (which I am willingly giving), so please don't rip it to shreds just for the sake of being critical.

Oh and enjoy -


It had been four days since I’d last slept, despite my dutiful attempts to try. I am sure to any seasoned insomniac, that was nothing. But I’d never experienced anything like it. Before then, I had always been a champion sleeper, even a regular nap taker. Sure, I’d had restless nights, but never four of them in a row and never without at least a few hours of sleep. My eyes felt heavy, my tongue thick and slow and I felt an equal division of lethargy and anxious energy. I was clearly a mess.

What brought on the insomnia, I wasn’t sure, but the plaguing questions that filled my head as I’d lie awake at night awaiting slumber, well those queries perpetuated it. What was I doing with my life? Where was I going? Who was I now, after everything that had happened? Was I happy?

I suppose these are questions that haunt just about everyone at one point or another in their life, but they were ringing a true bell at that very moment and I hated that I lacked such direction. What was I doing with my life? Until 9 months ago, my focus had been on my mother and her illness. She had given me purpose, just as I had once given her purpose, and I never questioned my station in life. I was going to see her to health or see her to death, but whichever way her fate took us, I knew it was my job to hold her hand. Once she was gone, my purpose was getting her effects in order and our house sold. A string of odd jobs had never been enough to cover the mortgage or the utilities or even feed me, if I kept the house. Selling the house felt like the physical and metaphoric answer, at the time. Close that chapter in my life and move on. But now I worried I’d moved too hastily and sold a piece of myself in the process. But it was a little too late for remorse. Now, I was just waiting. Waiting for a sign, waiting for redemption, waiting for death. Waiting for something or someone to save me from this aimless rut I’d fallen into.

Where was I going? Hell if I knew. I’d left Seattle because I couldn’t face the life I’d left when Mom had gotten sick. It must have been pretty unremarkable for me to just leave it. After the house had sold, I drove to Portland and chose to stay. It was close enough to still feel like home but foreign enough to be a fresh start. Or at least, a start.

Who was I now, after everything that had happened? I hadn’t known who I was before Mom had gotten sick. I’d just been one of the girls – the girls at school, the girls at the gym, the girls at the office. I had just been there, taking in air and taking up space.

So here it was, Saturday evening and I hadn’t slept since Monday. I was turning into a zombie, according to my roommate, Grace. She’d offered me sleeping pills and suggested numerous activities that would guarantee to exhaust me to the point of collapsing. The list had ranged from running steps to calling up an old boyfriend of hers’ for some "fun". She was so inventive and helpful.

"I am not calling an ex of yours!" My cheeks flushed bright pink when she suggested it.

"Logan, why not? He’s not really an ex, because we never were really a couple. We just spent time together."" She was serious; I could see it in her eyes. Her lips were curling into a suggestive smile, recalling something I was curious to hear. But the idea of cold calling a stranger wasn’t my style. "He’s a great guy and has an amazing body!"

I shook my head, refusing to dignify that question with an answer. "No."

"Well . . . you have to do something. Obviously, lying around, hoping to fall asleep isn’t doing you any good." She paused for a split second before her eyes lit up. "Come dancing with me tonight! Yeah! We’ve never gone out dancing together. You can be my wing woman!"

"Your wing woman? For what?" I knew she was meeting a guy, but she’d never invited me on a date with her before. She’d been rambling about some guy that morning on the phone as I lied in bed, virtually responding to the appropriate breaks in her sentence flow, without actually listening to her.

"My date - the coffee shop guy. Weren’t you listening at all this morning?" She actually looked hurt.

"Oh yes!" I lied. "Grace, I’m sorry. I am not myself these days. This insomnia thing is eating at me from all different sides."

"So then, call Jeff!" She brightened up and pushed the phone back across the counter to me. I could see Jeff’s number prompted on the display screen.

"No!" I got up and walked to my room. I knew she’d keep persisting until I gave in to something. A shower sounded good and admittedly, so did dancing. If I really let loose on the floor, maybe I’d finally sleep tonight.

Our bathroom had adjoining doors and I leaned out into the hall to let Grace know I’d be in there for a bit. "I’m taking a shower."

"Does that mean you’re coming tonight?" Her voice rang out sharply from the kitchen. I paused, asking myself the same question.

"Yes." The word slipped out before I could change my mind or take it back.

"Yes!!!" I heard her hiss. I couldn’t help but smile a bit.

As I waited for the shower to warm, I pulled my hair up and looked at my face in the mirror. My skin was pale, as usual, but my eyes were baggy and purplish from the lack of sleep. I’ll need some serious makeup tonight to pull off looking human.

I slipped into the shower and stood for probably ten minutes directly under the stream of water. Scalding hot water raked across my skin but I found it calming, in a masochistic way. I imagined every thought in my head spilling out and washing down the drain. I tried to bring forth a part of me I’d buried a long time ago; ‘Social Logan’, as I liked to think of her as, was the part of my personality that had always loved dancing and being out amidst the nightlife. I hoped she’d fit me like a glove again. Opening my eyes, I spied the hideously cheerful waterproof radio Grace blared every morning, hanging in front of me and turned it on for the first time since I’d moved in. Quickly, the small room filled with a catchy pop song and I found myself dancing along to the song as I shampooed my hair and rinsed away four days of lassitude.

Getting out, I noticed Grace slipped a pre-function drink into the room. Vodka Redbull – sometimes, I swore this girl read my diary. She obviously just got it; got me. Had I told her that vodka was my drink? I couldn’t recall but I appreciated the energy and the alcohol. She must have guessed I’d need some liquid lubrication to get me out the door.

Wiping a washcloth through the steam on the mirror, I took in my appearance again. I looked less zombie-ish, more awake and even smiling a little. The music kept my foot tapping as I toweled off and squeezed the excess water out of my hair. It would take a blow-out and flat iron magic to get me "club" worthy and I had just enough time.

Grace had better appreciate this!

My bed was covered in the contents of my closet when I got out of the bathroom fifty minutes later.

"Can I borrow this?" Grace held out my favorite beaded brown chiffon top, her eyes so full of hope and anticipation, I couldn’t say no.

"Um . . . sure." I looked at the careless pile of my clothes and fumed a little. I wasn’t the most organized person, but I’d just managed to organize my closet in a feng shui attack.

"You can wear this. We’ll compliment each other." She held up a soft turquoise top of mine I hadn’t worn in a few years. With my yo-yoing weight, I’d kept an entire portion of my closet off-limits until I was thinner. I hoped I was small enough to fit into the blouse she held for me.

"We’ll see." I began to hang some of the discarded items, trying to hide my annoyance.

"Sorry about the mess." She said as she gazed at herself in my full length mirror. "I just suck at fashion and this guy is so hot." She looked back at me, looking for forgiveness or approval – of which, I wasn’t sure.

"So he offered to take you dancing?" I asked, trying my best to get things back in order.

"Yeah. I just pointed out he’d grabbed my drink and he apologized and handed it to me. I went to add some cream and sugar to it and when I turned around, he asked if he could make it up to me by taking me dancing at Dirty tonight."

"I’ve never heard of anyone being asked out like that."

"At a Starbuck’s? Well . . . welcome to Portland!" She obviously didn’t notice the strangeness I did. She didn’t seem like the type to get such impromptu invites like that. Hell, I never had.

Grace wasn’t so much ugly as she was just plain. Her body was average, her hair wavy and a dull blonde color that feel about shoulder length. Her eyes were a little too close together an she had a mole on her forehead that I’d had a great deal of difficulty not to stare at when I talked to her the first month after I moved in. She tried hard to make up for it with a great personality and a go-with-the-flow attitude. Both of us stuck in our mid-twenties, it seemed to me that most of the guys we’d meet at places like bars were looking for a piece of ass rather than a lifelong commitment. Sometimes, I felt her willingness to go along put her into situations that left her in a less than flattering light. But she was resilient and had a good heart. She’d yet to have given up on me.

She stepped into a denim skirt of mine that hung loose on her hips and made her skinny legs look even scrawnier but she didn’t seem to notice, or care, really. Maybe the idea of wearing someone else’s clothes gave her an extra boost of confidence. And really, who was I to judge? Maybe this guy thought she was really hot.

Dirty on a Friday night. I’d never been and I knew I was in for an eventful night.

More to come.

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