Sandman by America. History
“It’s not you. I’ve never slept well, just can’t seem to slow my thinking down enough to relax, so I get up. Go back to sleep now, you look really tired”
As a boy, he would squint his eyes toward the fading light of evening, willing the daylight hours to stay with him. Because monsters never lurked during the time of vivid sight, but they came out to play as soon as he couldn’t see them coming. His imaginings. The ghouls circulating in his mind’s eye. His puzzling. His inability to rest. His complete incomprehension of what it might be like to have an iota of space in his brain.
Without ramblings. Without planning. Without worrying. There was never room up inside his cranim. His head was too damned cramped and sleep was simply a luxury afforded by those with an off-switch.
Michael couldn’t change his lack of ability as an adult.
He read books on how to beat insomnia naturally, he attended health courses with guest speakers keynoting correct sleeping patterns. He even attempted artificial tranquilization, procured from the renowned psychiatrist he consulted about his Low Latency Inhibition and it’s effect on his overwhelming psyche.
He found sleeping tablets too modifying for him to cope the following day. He found the effects of self-medicating alcohol too tempting for the duration of the session, but hellish to deal with in the long-term. He found combinations of drugs and booze too confronting, as though he was admitting he was afraid of not sleeping, afraid it would make him even more of a freak.
Bed was a place of penance for him.
He had vague remembrances of his mother placing him lovingly within the comforts of deep mattresses and warm offerings. His first memories of bedtime were the antithesis of what he grew to feel about it. About his insomnia and the boredom and fear and whirring of mind-gears and the inability to shut-down and the general unease of the moorings of the night.
Foster care did little to ease his tension -
Get to bed, you little thieving pig....
Out of my sight, you lying, cheating boy. We won’t keep you here, get to bed....
Stay in this room for as long as I say. Get into that bed and pray to Jesus to save your stinkin’ little soul....
Get into that bed....Fuck you, did you wet that bed again, you little filthy piece of....well, you sleep there anyway. A wet bed will teach you....
You'll get to your room, young man, and go to bed without any dinner for even thinking those things.....
- it exacerbated his problems ten-fold.
Fox River reinforced his insomniac behaviours.
He could lie awake for hours, unnoticed, eyes round and bulging and fixed, like the fish he was named for. Thinking about Lincoln. Thinking about family. Wondering about Sara, what she was doing, why she was here, whether she ever thought about him in the cushion of her residence, how their heads would look together cradled on her white pillows - the aesthetic of auburn, black close- shaved skull and clean, crisp white of softness.
But not freedom from the scars of his endless wakefulness.
Smiles await you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby.”
Beatles, Golden Slumbers, Abbey Road
She has memories of being cosseted.
Lifted from the sanctuary of sheltered playtime, pampered, bathed. Swaddled and rocked until her eyelids became heavy and crusted, then ensconced in layer upon layer of delicate wrap.
Crooned to. Checked upon. Safely abed while her family of two adults buzzed about her, encouraging her to sleep, to dream sweetly.
As she grew, her bed became her haven:
To escape the noise and slander of her parent’s violent words as they rammed each other like wounded bulls.
To retreat to the comfort of something familiar when her mother appeared a bleary-eyed stranger unable to focus on anything but her emptying bottle, unsure of the identity of the young girl before her.
To lie and wonder about life. About the person she was destined to be, about the career she was studying to have, about her soulmate lingering somewhere beyond reach, about her peer and their tendencies to judge and belittle.
To inhale the heady, lusty influence of her Mother Drug. Her one love, the owner of her soul. The one stable, reliable influence in her life: Sara knew when Mother Drug would be home, knew it would be there for her, knew what time it would show up each day, knew it would never stand her up when a date was made. And knew she would reach the incredible exhilaration of a high, EACH and every time.
Often in the asylum of her bed.
Mother Drug never let her down in bed. She always hit the right spot.
And so she slept. Well. Whether high or wretched. Whether sexed-up or drugged-up or experiencing the lowest slide into the anus of her family-life.
She loved her bed. Bed loved her.
The adult Sara preferred to sleep alone, and although she found sexual release pleasant enough - and normal in the physiological sense, natural, necessary for procreation and the procurement of morphine, at times - she found the act of sleeping with someone far too intimate.
All the body positioning and crumpled sheets. All the different sleep cycles and biorhythms. All the attention to matters of the morning - the conversations filled with promise, the excuses for never leaving a marriage, the exchange of cell numbers never consulted again.
Not for her.
“Do you know sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture, Michael?” She tries to make him think of his health, mental well-being especially.
“I’ve been like this for years. I can’t seem to get a full night’s sleep.” He tries to reason with her understanding of body processes and mind-sets.
“The body really needs the period of sleep. Hey, please tell me the things you’ve tried to do to overcome insomnia.”
They have made love half a dozen times in the early stages of their first night together, each time more stupendous and sublime than the previous encounter had been. She wonders when the delights and surprises will cease. Or cease to amaze her.
“So many things, Sara. Hypnotherapy, sleeping tablets, sedatives, thought-process therapy, Insomniacs Anonymous - ‘Hi I’m Michael, and I’m a Sleep Avoider.’”
Their hours of sexual activity have been energy sapping and emotionally draining. She’s so weary and can’t understand his vigor. He’s wired and wants more.....well, wanted more with less conversation, now he just wants her to sleep.
“Perhaps in a new bed? Um, with me. I could even run you a bath...”
She wants to snuggle and settle, he wants to keep playing - and if the playground attraction is out of bounds, he wants to get up and do what he does every night. Muse. Consider. Worry. Read, Stare into space.
“It’s not the bed...it’s certainly not you. I. Just. Can’t. Sleep.”
She’s astonished she wants him in her bed, to be sleeping next to her, around her, breathing her air, stealing her covers. It’s what she usually dislikes, but intimacy with him was carved in stone the day they met. This night has changed her idea of loving and bedtime and slumbering to an extent she had only ever....dreamed about. Sara is really corny, even though she didn’t intend that particular cognitive pun.
“Do you ever lie in bed and try to relax, or read, or watch TV, or simply lie there?”
She’s trying to understand. She’s spent. She craves sleep now because he’s tired her with demands, she’s tired herself with demands she’s made of him. But she also wants to refuel. She wants to retrieve some energy and vim for a second round she’s hoping will come later. And she wants him up to speed, not sleepy and floppy.
“No, I don’t ever simply lie there, Sara. It makes things worse, it reminds me of my inability to get to sleep. But look...if you want I’ll lie back down....”
He’s so obsessed with her lying under a thin sheet on her bed talking to him as though he is the best thing to happen to her in a long time, he will ring Warden Pope and invite himself to have a sleep over at his place - now and nude - if this is what she wants him to do.
Everything about her has altered slightly. Her hair is stunningly mussed, her eyelids are at half-mast and heavy, her cheeks are lightly floured with post-activity flush, her voice sounds as though it is emanating from her uterus, it’s husky and compelling and bloody sexy.
“I don’t want to force you to do anything that’s uncomfortable for you, Michael. Ah, do you want to try for a couple of minutes, maybe till I just get to sleep, and if it doesn’t work, if you feel....I don’t know, funny, then get up. How does that sound?”
He’s glad because he doesn’t want to sleep with Henry Pope, awesome gentleman though he is, what he really wants to do is touch her and tease her and hear her uterus-speak his name and pant and explode before his eyes. But she’s almost asleep by the time he re-enters her domain so he cradles her to his body and prays for chaste thoughts.
Sara has never wanted to be held by anyone as she entered The Land of Nod, except for her beloved Mother Drug.
Michael has never wanted to shut down and enter The Land of Nod willingly, being more afraid of the unknown where he will lose control of his thoughts for what could be hours on end.
She finds the nearness of his body and the chaos of the undersheet oddly comforting and unusually familiar.
He finds elements of night he has never, ever seen. The final moments of true consciousness a second before sleep takes hold, the flicker of the eye pattern during REM, the changes in breathing and body temperature during the different phases of human sleep. The chit-chat of the slumbering soul - alien and pitched. Foreign and endearing.
She is quick to realign her body to compensate for a bed partner.
He is quick to take advantage of her sleeping conternance for a subtle kiss, an extra stroke or ten, some massive love touches probably noticable somewhere in Nod.
She is smiling in her sleep and dreaming of how much she loves bed and how much more she loves bed with him.
He is smiling in his state of awake, daydreaming about how much he loves bed now and how much more he loves bed with her.
She sleeps well, deeply, totally, fully immersed.
He loves well. Deeply, totally. Fully immersed.
And sometimes, he even sleeps.
More often than not, he’s awake, simply lying in bed and having the time of his life.