Imagination can be a form of restlessness. And Shelia’s runs wild when the world is fast asleep. She starts out slowly. She wakes up next to her husband, Cal, and lies still. She thinks if she’s still enough and keeps her breathing nice and even that she’ll fall back asleep. But that’s not what happens. After ten wakeful minutes she slips from the sheets and goes to check on the kids. Thank God neither of them show signs of her insomnia, yet, she almost wishes for one of them to keep her company. Even as infants they both went right back to sleep after night feedings — just like Cal.
Now she glides down the stairs. Sometimes she closes her eyes when she walks down, counting the steps silently. Sheila never turns the lights on, her imagination is much more powerful in the dark. She stands in front of each window and sees the silent shrubbery sentinels flanking the front walk. She turns off the porch lights and looks out the peephole. The world is small, concave, in shades of black and grey. There’s never anything animate in her view. She’s barefoot, but it’s a warm enough night. She pulls a blanket off the back of the couch and opens the front door. She’s just going to sit on the front step and keep watch for a little while. Watch and think a bit.
The wind stirs the trees and turns up the underside of leaves — they look almost green in the contrast to the dark. The May night air smells scrubbed, still damp from its nocturnal washing. Shelia imagines that’s was what happens to her brain in the night as well. Some sort of neurological scrubbing occurs and in the morning you feel like a freshly washed kitchen floor. And you have that satisfied feeling after a cleaning job well-done. But since Sheila didn’t sleep as well as most people she worried that her brain might have more dirt piled up in the corners — worry dirt.
Worry made her rise and walk. Down the flagstone steps into the empty street toward the lake. She could she the glassy surface growing larger as she got closer. The night insects had stopped their calls but it was still too early for the birds to be up. Just the sound of the wind creating little laps in the water. The air smelled sour with the water treatment plant nearby. The neighborhood looked picturesque, but some days were just plain stinky if the wind was either blowing in the wrong direction or there was no wind at all.
A cat darted out of the bush and Sheila was caught off-guard. She slipped in the grass and slid to rest on her rump. Hands planted on each side of her damp ass she chuckled to herself. “Maybe I’ll just wait here for the sun to rise on another day in paradise?”