Sleepless Night Short



     The room was dark and quiet.  All he could hear was the faint buzzing of a cheap table fan.  That fan was bought for him at a flea market not too long ago. On one of the good days.  He sat on the edge of his bed quiet and alone.  The bed was old. He had gotten it second hand.  The mattress was all he had gotten, no sheets or pillows.  He was fine with that, he didn't need all of that fancy stuff.  He managed to acquire an old comforter, weeks later, that was now crumpled in the corner.  It was a simple bed, and he thought it was quite comfortable.

     He stared out into the dim room, looking at the walls. They were covered with wood paneling, lines of age worked into the rectangular strips, not quite seamlessly placed.  Faintly glowing plastic stars lined the walls and up onto the dingy white ceiling.  Those stars were special to him, they made the room feel more open.  He had gotten them on a whim one time when he saw them at the store.  His mom had told him then that they were for kids younger than him.  He didn't mind that though, he had bought them anyway and arranged them into his own galaxy covering his room.  They glowed now, all different shapes and sizes, a plethora of planets, meteors and stars.

     He was supposed to be asleep by now but he just couldn't lay his head down.  Well, he had been laying down but his mind was the culprit of his insomnia.  He was too nervous, sure he was about to hear an explosion of yelling from the other room.  Sitting there in his boxers he felt very lonely, and his mood was giving him an upset stomach. He glanced over to the small tv sitting on a milk crate, the glowing stars reflecting across the glass surface.  Milk crates, mostly ignored by people, he found could be very useful.  He had one for a chair and one for a television stand. He even had a spare one in the closet in case someone came over and needed a place to sit.  

     He thought about turning on the television to take his mind off of his situation, but that might bring trouble.  No the tv would not be a good choice at this point.  It would be best to be quiet, as quiet as he could.  He looked at the small digital clock sitting on the floor, it read one-fifty-seven, in bright penetrating red.    

     Then, without invitation, he heard a loud thudding noise and the walls shook.  One of the little stars stuck to the wall made its fall from grace.  Blazing down into the shaggy carpet the covered the floor.  He tensed his mood going from a state of constant dread to an almost comfortable panic.  He knew this scenario all too well.  First it was the thudding, then would come the shouting.  He tried to brace himself stilling his mind from the conclusions he would inevitably conjure up. 

     Was it a monster? No, he was too old to believe in monsters, he knew exactly what it was.  It was his mom taking another beating from her current live in.  In a way he guessed it was a monster of sorts.  One with physical teeth to bite you.  This had been happening since he could remember in the small trailer that they lived in.  The thing about trailers was, the walls were so thin everything came through.  

     Oh sure, mom would be fine in the morning as she slowly got up from the couch.  She would say something about how hard she had slept. Then she would ask him could he drive his brother to school this morning.  He drove his brother almost everyday, even though it took him miles out of the way from the high school he attended.  He would see the look on her face and such a mix of sorrow and disgust would bubble in his stomach. She never admitted to him the actual cause of her constant sleepiness and slurred speech. Not until it was much too late. 

     He heard another thud and looked over to the wall, the wall that he shared with the living area.  It was the same wall his closet was on, if you could call it that.  Really it was a large piece of plywood tacked to the wall, with a bar running between it and the outer facing wall.  His shabby clothes collected there, hung with wire hangers bent out of shape from years of use.  There was a gaping hole there, not all the way through but from his side he could see the thin pink insulation spilling out.  That had happened weeks ago, when he had had too much of the thudding and constant screams.  He could remember pulling his fist back and thinking about how impotent he was.  He slammed his fist into the paneling cracking it through to the drywall.  He got it for that one, got it big time.

     Getting it big time wasn't so bad though.  It was terrifying when he was younger, but recently he found himself caring less and less about getting yelled at or smacked around.  What was a couple of smacks to the face? Yeah they hurt, but that faded over time.  More and more lately he was just angry.  Angry at the situation, and helpless at the same time. 

     Another thud, this one muffled slightly.  He sat on his bed clenching his fists, nails biting into the palms of his hands.  What else could he do.  He had tried in the past to intervene.  The repetition of these events had taught him, it was better in the end to pretend ignorance.  It seemed like everyone in his family did.  How could they not know? He did, and surely someone else had to notice.  Did they not see the bruises?  Not put together the puzzle of constant excuses for things that were obvious?

     He heard new sounds now, not full on screaming but suppressed groans.  His eyes were locked on the wall like he was expecting his mom and that guy to come tumbling in at any moment.  The thuds and groans, if that's what they were, escalated.  The walls continued to shake from the huge weight shifts on the floor.  This had to end soon, it felt like it had been going on for hours, yet he knew only seconds had past.  This would go on for much longer tonight.  And all he could do was stare at a wall.

     He felt tears hot and familiar drop out of his eyes and trickle down his cheeks.  The sick feeling in his stomach had risen to full on cramps now.  He slid back onto his bed reaching for the blinds.  He pulled on the string and jerked it to the side, making the blinds hold their position half way up the window.  He slid the window up not worrying about the screen, because there wasn't one.  He stuck his head through the opening and retched his dinner of sugary cereal out onto the ground below.  

     After losing his dinner he felt a little better.  At least the constant worry of being sick was gone, all that was left was a slight feeling of burning in his throat.  He relaxed back on the bed wiping the tears from his eyes with the back of his wrist.  The sounds coming from the living room had subsided for the moment.  They would probably start up again, but for now at least he couldn't hear them.  He stared up at the ceiling blinking through blurry eyes at the stars.  A mix of rage and sadness rolling through him like waves.  No, there would be no  sleep for him tonight.       


Runaway Short