Lesson Learned

This morning, I woke up with the greatest idea for a story. It was an original concept, and I had a strong character in mind.

And then…

I fell back asleep.

And I forgot the idea.

The only thing I remember is that the character was female, and I believe she was a young girl.

Tonight I’m going to bed with a notebook and a pen by my bed again.

Three Hours

I have slept only three hours in the past… Wait, I’m counting… Oh, my brain isn’t working well enough to figure it out. Point is, I haven’t been sleeping much lately. And this is the first time in a very long time that I’ve managed to valiantly survive a whole day, without taking a nap, on this little sleep. I feel strangely accomplished, and am now going to celebrate by going to bed.

Night Lessons [Flash Fiction]

Stephanie got to know her sister at night. The two shared a bedroom, for the apartment was small and there was no chance of their mother and father ever earning enough to allow them to move. Cordelia complained to anyone who would listen, listing the ways a room of her own would benefit her, explaining how the pipsqueak of a sister who shared what used to be her sanctuary was disruptive to her everyday life.

Cordelia was twelve when Stephanie was born. She knew it was an accident; everyone knew it was. There was a lot of speculation among the neighbors as to whether or not the girls even shared the same father. Stephanie never heard those rumors herself, because Cordelia never told her anything. That was why she could only learn about her sister through her dreams.

Communication didn’t play an important role in their family. It wasn’t a silent house by any means; there was a television, a radio, a computer and a stereo, and they often made sounds all at once, causing a confusing sort of ruckus. Even at night, the urban streets outside streamed with traffic and sirens were heard at least once between dusk and dawn. Stephanie didn’t learn about silence until much later, and by then she wasn’t able to abide it.

The first time it happened, Stephanie was three. She awoke in the middle of the night, during a heavy rainstorm, and saw Cordelia sitting up in her bed across the room. “Coria?” she whispered into the dark room. She’d always had trouble with her sister’s name, and this butchering of it stuck with her for the rest of her life, although she never dared use it in public when she grew up. That night, her sister didn’t answer her; instead, Cordelia spoke to the wall in front of her: “No fair. Fancy dress with crocodiles. Nu-uh.” Then she lay back down, still fast asleep.

Stephanie was puzzled, and in the morning, she asked her sister what she’d been talking about. Cordelia pushed her over¬†irritably¬†and told her that she was making things up. “I don’t talk in my sleep, ugly-butt,” she said. But Stephanie knew that she did.

It didn’t happen every night, but once or twice a week Stephanie would wake up, quite by accident, and hear her sister mumble about tornadoes, boys, Mom and Daddy, motorcycles, and other obscurities. The nonsensical sentences began to take shape in Stephanie’s mind over time, and she watched her sister closely, yearning to understand her, thinking that if she knew things about her life, Cordelia might like her. When she had an abusive boyfriend, Stephanie was the first to know, because she heard “Bobby, don’t!” and “Makeup won’t cover the clover, it won’t work. Daddy, you try,” and other bizarre fragments that she pieced together.

Not that Stephanie did anything with the knowledge – she was too afraid of her sister’s temper to tell her parents anything, and more often than not she didn’t understand the reality of the situation in quite the way Cordelia was living it. But she felt like she got to know her sister, and that was what mattered.

When, many years later, Cordelia lay in a hospital bed, Stephanie told her about the things that her big sister had never told her and Cordelia raised her eyebrows in surprise. Her voice was almost nonexistent by this point, and it was hard for her to breathe, but she managed to utter “Smart ugly-butt. Who knew?” before a fit of coughing overcame her. Stephanie handed her a glass of water from the bedside table and helped her drink it, before laying her back down against the pillows.

Blasts From the Past

Isn’t it strange how things seem to synchronize in life? Sometimes it’s craving something sweet and suddenly discovering a cake mix you’ve had for months and forgotten about. Sometimes it’s driving along, thinking about how you really need to replace your toaster, and then seeing an appliance store the next time you stop at a red light. Sometimes it’s reaching your hand out to call a friend you haven’t spoken to for ages, and having the phone ring just at that moment with that person on the line calling you. Life is sometimes funny that way. Coincidences probably, or so my rational mind deduces, but it doesn’t take away the sweet taste of mystery that comes with it.

This week, I’ve made some remarkable findings. First, I found my old poetry notebook in which I’d copied, by hand, all the poems I’d written on the computer. Reading through the poems, I was surprised at how much of what I’d written then still applies to me, but in a different way.

Second, I most likely found the reason I don’t sleep well is because of something in my past – I never put two and two together until getting the input from someone else, but once I did, it clicked. Not that it’s helped me sleep better, but at least I know a likely reason for it.

Third, I got an email from OpenDiary, a website I used to write in during high-school. I had two diaries there; one written when I was sixteen, the other when I was seventeen. I accessed both diaries and downloaded them to my computer and read through some entries. As with the poetry notebook, it was a surprise to read my words back then and think how they mean something different, but still relevant, to me now. The best part, though, is that there are a few entries about the beginning of my relationship with Sir B. F. and those made me smile a great deal.

Last, I found my daily-calendar from senior year in high school. It’s full of lyrics, big decelerations of boredom, private jokes my friends and I had then and lots of hearts dedicated to Sir. B. F. as well as the various bands I was seriously into at the time. I loved finding the doodles I had done while bored out of my mind during class – a big Christmas tree with presents beneath it drawn on December 24, random cat and bunny drawings, some manga attempts.

It was strange, finding all these things day after day, but I enjoyed it. I love those weird synchronizations in life. How about you?

Santa Ana

A Los-Angeles girl at heart and soul in many ways, there are certain feelings and scents and types of weather that I can identify as being utterly LA-ish, even though I have no good reason to know or understand LA weather to such an extent. For instance, there is a wind blowing outside my window right now – a warm wind, carrying with it dust and grit and a dryness that makes you need to lick your lips every few seconds.

This sort of wind is called a “Santa Ana” wind, because that’s the sort of wind that flows through that area in California. It’s a desert wind, and there’s something infinitely creepy about feeling it on one’s face at midnight in January. It is earthquake weather – it feels as if the earth is about to tear open, as if all the dogs are going to start becoming giddy soon, feeling the disaster coming on. It feels as if the sky will break open and sandy, dirty rain will fall, even though there are no clouds to speak of.

It is the sort of night that is build for unconventional horror stories, a night where you know you won’t be able to fall asleep because the warm air will prevent you being comfortable in your quilt. Moreover, the wind will be moaning its dreadful sound and making the dry, dead leaves shake like death rattles. The wind brings to mind graveyards in summer nights, endless deserts and no water or sustenance, haunted houses and funerals. It is unpleasant, and yet it still smells and sounds like a bit of home to me, a bit of LA transferred to this tiny country.

Exhaustion… Taken Over… Brain…

There are those wonderful times when you’re truly too tired to think. Your brain is full of this low, not unpleasant, fuzzy sound. For some reason, as I think of this sound now – it’s creeping up on me even as I write – I imagine that it is the snores of the little mouse that runs all day on it’s little wheel to keep our brains going. Or perhaps it is a hamster. No, mice are cuter than hamsters.

The feeling of being this exhausted, both mentally and physically, is wonderful in my opinion. This feeling holds memories for me, all of them precious: the long drive home from Disneyland that year when there was so much traffic on the way home that I fell asleep and slept through the three hour ride and was carried into my grandparents’ house awake, but pretending to still be asleep because it was so much more comfortable; the memory of every horrid migraine I’ve had and the way I’ve fallen into an exhausted, relieved sleep at the end of the long period of sleeplessness due to the pain; the memories of falling into an exhausted sleep after a particularly enjoyable, but quite long, school trip.

As I’ve confessed, my brain is approaching levels of chronic fuzzyness at the moment, and so I shall have to postpone the writing exercises that I was planning on beginning tonight. Procrastination – it is indeed a devilish instinct, is it not?

Reverent Reverie

Sometimes sleep is the best medicine. No matter what happens, it’s something the body will do naturally, something that can’t be fought or resisted. Sleep tells us things as well – when we don’t sleep well, it’s because we’re worried about something, or something is bothering us without our realizing it. When bad dreams awake us, shaking and sweating, in the middle of the night, more often than not some unknown or unheeded fear is coming to light or finding a way out so as not to worry us anymore.

And when we’re tired – ah! Such a feeling. It can be awful, being tired to the bone. But viewed the right way, it can be wonderful. If you let yourself surrender to it – not even by sleeping, but just by accepting it – you may feel a languor and a calmness steal over your body in a way that is completely unique. When we’re sick, or not feeling well, our body warns us of it by making us weaker, more tired, more in need of sleep. Again, in these situations being tired can feel wonderful, a deep knowledge that crawling into bed now will help, it will rest your body and mind and make you stronger to fight the germs in you.

Truly, sleep is the best medicine.

A Hellish Night Indeed

Drenched in sweat, tears leaking down my face, I woke up repeatedly from the most horrid night’s sleep I’ve had in memory. Tossing and turning and throwing blankets off and pulling them back on again, I could not get any rest.

In the books, in my lovely, loved books, the heroes always sleep badly before a battle, before a grand decision, when there’s a monarch’s life on the line or at least a wedding or something else significant the next day. For me? None of these. Today is not a special day, is not supposed to be anything special or life-altering or even exciting. No offense to Monday, the 20th of October.

So why? I have no answer. I just know that of all the nightmarish nights that I’ve endured – and I’ve had my fair share, believe me – this was the worst. I dreamt of my boyfriend dying, I dreamt of every mundane chore and how I cried through it because of his death. When I woke up from the dream, it took my a full ten minutes of lying in bed and sobbing to realize that it was just a dream. Even after that, I spent the next four hours until my alarm was to ring waking time and again thinking I was late, thinking it was a different day, panicking that it was afternoon and I’d missed the bus I’m to take.

Small wonder then, that I feel like I’ve been up all night running.