Hour Thirty-Eight

Sasha kicked her covers off. Too hot. She pulled her covers back over just her legs. Too cold. She reached over and adjusted the angle of her alarm clock. If she did fall asleep, she wanted to make sure she could see the time perfectly. Its garish green illumination seemed to mock her. Two a.m... She began to wonder what the “a.m.” stood for. Did she know? Had she forgotten, or had she just never known? How the heck did a human being live to be twenty-seven years old and not know what a.m. stood for? She began to imagine being on a job interview and being asked that question and being unable to answer it. Some dude in a suit is staring blankly at her as she collapses in a heap on his dirty office floor, sobbing. Two men in white coats came and carry her away.

This is how the mind rambles when deprived of sleep for thirty-eight hours.

Fifteen minutes later, it was no use. Even though she had strategically placed her cell phone in the living room out of reach in order to discourage obsessively checking her email, Instagram, Facebook, and Linked In every fifteen minutes, she had to get up and get it. Slipping her feet into her fuzzy slippers and grabbing a worn-out robe from the back of her bathroom door, she shuffled into the living room.

“Insomnia, thou art a foul beast”, she muttered to herself.

She picked up her phone from the wireless charger where it lay waiting for her like a lover. “I knew you would come for me”, it whispered seductively.

“Shut up before I throw you in the toilet again.” She replied.

Quickly googling her query, she was rewarded with a brief etymology of “a.m.”:

“In fact, like many words and phrases in the English language, a.m. is short for a Latin phrase, “ante meridiem” (or “before midday”), while p.m. is short for “post meridiem” (or “after midday”). “

“Huh”, she said out loud, “who knew?”

Well, as long as she had her phone in hand anyway…

Hilarious cats climbing and toppling things over, vacation pics from her cousin Brian, a couple levels of busting up waffles and cupcakes, and a free seminar sign up later…she was still wide awake.

Hour Thirty-Nine

Even though Brian’s vacation pictures ALMOST put her to sleep, entering her sister’s personal information into the online seminar sign up page for “Prostate Health-Preventing your Worst Fears” had completely woken her up again. She especially enjoyed answering questions like “Are you a male between 40 and 65?” with answers like “Sometimes.”

Her phone chirped. A text from her sister. “I know it was you, freak. Very funny.” Oh yeah. It was three ante meridiem. Her sister would be getting ready for her shift at the hospital about now. Sasha texted back, “Forgive me for being concerned about your precious prostate health.”

Her sister texted back three words: “GO TO SLEEP.”

Sasha picked up the T.V. remote and started flipping through channels.

Hour Forty

Four ante meridiem.

Seen it. Seen it. Too old. Too stupid. Wow. He blew that sucker’s head right off, didn’t he? Bought it. Want it. Seen it. Oh wait. Maybe I haven’t seen this…five minutes later, seen it.

Wait…What’s THIS?

Limited Time Offer! Not available in any store! flashed across the screen in huge red letters. Sasha stopped flipping through the channels and stared at the television. Images of people sleeping flashed across the screen. A soothing female voice said, “My insomnia was so bad. I barely slept twelve hours in a typical week. I went through my days feeling like a zombie, and then stared at the ceiling or the T.V. all night. I was fueled by coffee, or worse, sometimes energy drinks. The caffeine kept me going, but it also kept me awake. Until I discovered “Restful Sleep.” Now I sleep like a baby. EVERY night.

Sasha found herself sitting on the edge of the couch. A handsome guy in his forties strolled onto a stage where little console looking things were arranged on a table. They were about the size of a bedside alarm clock and came in an array of bright or subdued colors. Every minute or so, a little puff of mist came out of them.  He waved his hand over the table, smiling a perfect movie actor smile.

“Who WOULDN’T like to sleep like a baby? He shouted.

The studio audience clapped and cheered.

“I would.”, thought Sasha.

“Let’s take some questions from the studio audience!”

More applause.

The camera swung over to where a tall, blonde woman stood in the aisle of the audience seating. She too, was smiling ear to ear. “Thanks, Storm.” (of COURSE, his name was Storm) First, I’d like to give my own testimony to this wonderful science. Working the wee hours of the morning at the Buying Network, I had trouble regulating my own sleep.  I would toss and turn for hours after getting home from work. It’s so hard to force yourself to sleep when everyone else is just getting up to go to work! I tried everything, and eventually started drinking a couple shots of cheap whiskey when I got home.” The audience gasped in collective horror.

“Yes…”, she went on. “But even that didn’t work! Eventually, my drinking got so bad that my husband left me.” The audience moaned. But the smile never left her face. “It’s OK, it’s OK!”, she said, waving her hand dismissively. Because luckily one morning I was scheduled to showcase this new product, “Restful Sleep” and let me tell you people…thanks to this little gadget, my life has never been better!”

The audience burst into applause and cheering.

The camera was now back on Storm, who was holding a hot pink unit in his hand. “What, Hope? Is that right? This little gadget saved your life?” Let’s look at all the colors that are available real quickly, shall we?

Someone from the audience shouted out “But how does it work?”

Storm looked annoyed. “We’ll get to that. But right now, let’s look at all the beautiful colors it comes in to coordinate with your bedroom décor!” Now, there is Sunset, this pretty orange, and Seafoam, isn’t that lovely? Of course, we have Tuxedo and Snowbank, your basic black and white.”

“What’s the purple one, the purple one…?” thought Sasha, realizing her heart was beating faster. Yes, she really wanted that purple one.

Storm held the purple unit in his hand. “This is a customer favorite. It’s called Amethyst. These will sell out fast this morning. So, you better dial in quickly!”

Someone from the audience interrupted. “What’s the price?”

The camera swung back over to Hope, who was standing next to an audience member. “This is Marjorie. Marjorie has a heart-warming testimonial to share with us. “Go ahead, Marjorie, don’t be shy.”

Marjorie starts to speak but appears to be choked up. She composes herself, and then speaks quietly. “I was so tired all the time. So Tired. Sometimes I would go three or four days without any real sleep. I lost my job. I couldn’t concentrate. But, thanks to “Restful Sleep”, I got my life back. I need an alarm clock to wake me from a sound sleep every morning. Marjorie looks directly into the camera, tears welling in her big, blue eyes. “Thanks, “Restful Sleep”!

“That’s quite a compelling story”, said Hope. 

The camera is back on the colorful units displayed across the table. A deep baritone voice begins speaking. Was that James Earl Jones? “How much would you pay for a good night’s sleep each, and EVERY night? What has insomnia stolen from you? Would you pay five hundred dollars to get YOUR life back?

Sasha is on her feet. Yes! Yes! She would pay five hundred dollars for an Amethyst  “Restful Sleep”!

The voice kept going, each syllable lulling her into a feeling of complete security. “Dial 1-800-FOR- REST, right now. Don’t wait. Order NOW, while your color is in stock. If you call within the next thirty minutes, you WON’T pay 500.00, You won’t pay 300.00, or even 200.00! For four, low,  no interest payments of 43.00 each, you can sleep!”

Across the bottom of the screen large letters continued to roll.  “FREE SHIPPING FOR THE FIRST 100 CUSTOMERS! NOT AVAILABLE IN ANY STORES! CALL NOW! 1-800-FOR-REST! OPERATERS STANDING BY! CALL NOW!

The cameras switch back to Hunky Storm and Gorgeous Hope, now seated together on a couch. Storm is yawning. “Oh. Hope, we’re going to have to turn these things off! I’m not going to make it through the broadcast!”

“I’m getting sleepy too, Storm!”, says Hope. “And with no drugs or alcohol of any kind!”

Now Storm has a serious face. He looks directly into the camera and says somberly, “If you are struggling to sleep, you know the devastating effect that sleep deprivation has on the quality of your life. If you, or a family member, needs help getting real rest, rest that is so vital to your health, take the first step. Pick up the phone.”

The screen now showed a counter depicting the rapid sales of the product, and how many of each color were left. Only forty amethyst color units were left!

Sasha had the phone in her hand. Without even realizing what she was doing, she was dialing the number.

Busy signal. Redial. Busy Signal. Redial. Busy signal. Redial. Her smartphone asked if she would like it to keep redialing and be notified when she got through? Yes.

Sasha continued to watch the broadcast. More people came forward with their insomnia stories.  A doctor came on and started explaining what happens to the brain when it is sleep deprived. In his white coat he pointed at charts and graphs. All the while, the sales counter counted down the units that were left. Amethyst was the first to sell out. She would get white. But white went next, then black. Taupe and green and red and pink all sold out as she watched in horrified disbelief.

Storm and Hope were both asleep on the couch, her head laying blissfully against his strong shoulder. The camera panned across the audience. Only a few people remained awake, and they seemed to be fighting sleep.

Her phone continued dialing, and the T.V. screen went black. Sasha could only imagine that the cameraman had fallen asleep.

Hour 41

Five ante meridiem

Sasha felt frantic. She grabbed her Ipad and started googling “Restful Sleep.” There must be another way to get her hands on it! But the search engines produce nothing. Her phone was still redialing away but getting nothing but a busy signal. Sasha began pacing the room like a caged tiger. Her mind was racing, and so was her heart.

Finally, her phone announced, “Your call cannot be completed as dialed. Please check the number and try again.” She picked her phone up, staring at it in disbelief, and raises it above her head to throw it. At that very second, the T.V. came back to life. Sasha dropped the phone on the couch and turned to see what was being broadcast.”

“Breaking News. This is an emergency report LIVE from the Buying Network´s headquarters in Indianapolis. We have helicopters and reporters on the way. It looks like a mass poisoning! At least twenty people have died including the two hosts!”

Sasha watched in abject horror as gurneys carrying bodies came out of the building. Her entire body broke out into a cold sweat, and tears flowed down her cheeks. She lay down on the couch and curled up in the fetal position. She pictured the table full of colorful little consoles shooting a mist into the air. Poor Storm. Poor Hop She supposed there would be a recall of this product now. She was glad she had not been able to purchase it after all. Returning things was such a hassle.

Then she closed her eyes and fell into “Restful Sleep”.

















December 12, 2019 20:09

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We made a writing app for you

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