Illusory correlation

Submitted into Contest #138 in response to: Write about a character who doesn’t want to go to sleep.... view prompt


Bedtime Contemporary

Tonight, the moon is full and lustrous. The final full moon of the winter season. A change is coming. The earth loosens her soil. Spring is just around the corner. I stood on the balcony wrapped in the gaze of the moon, inviting brighter and longer days, when I heard:

-“Nana!” a very persistent calling from my grandson, probably trying to manipulate me into giving him some extra time, before turning off the lights.

-“Have you seen the moon, Nana?” Raphael asked, with his nose stuck to his bedroom window.

-“Yes, isn´t it beautiful? It is called Worm moon.” I said as I walked into his room.

-“Why?” the eager young mind inquired.

-“Maybe because of the worms that appear as it gets warmer in the soil, and this invites robins and other birds. It´s a sign of spring.” I explained.

-“Swallows too?” he asked with a touch of excitement in his voice.

-“Yes, swallows too.” I assured him, “But now it´s time to go to bed, I´m exhausted and I need to sleep, or I will keel over.” 

The little rascal thought this was very funny:

-“Don´t worry Nana,” he giggled, “I will catch you! I won’t let you fall.”

-“That is very sweet of you honey, but now it´s time to sleep.” I was about to kiss him goodnight when he stopped me in my tracks and asked:

-“Nana, how come we see the moon only at night?”

-“Tell me something, little professor,” I started, “these questions wouldn´t be designed to buy you an excuse not to sleep, now would they.”

 He looked at me wide-eyed and shook his head vehemently.

-“Well, the moon reflects the light of the sun, so we see it better against a night´s sky.” I answered his question.

-“How far is it to the moon?” Raphael asked, looking at me with puppy eyes.

-“ Hm, I´m not sure. I know it´s very, very far. I think it´s more than two hundred thousand miles from our planet.” I said, “And now it really is time to sleep, young man.” I tucked him in and kissed his forehead. Just as I was about to walk out of his room, I heard him asking:

-“What is the moon made of Nana?”

-“I don´t know.” I shrugged with a smile, while my hand reached for the light switch, “There are those who claim the moon is made of cheese.” I immediately regretted having said that.

-“Nanaaaaaa…” Raphael started protesting. “Please, I need to know.”

-“And I need to sleep Raphael! Night night.” I turned around to see him sit up straight in his bed.

-“I will tell everybody how old you really are.” He said with a quirked smile on his face.

-“You little weasel!” I laughed. “Can we not have this conversation tomorrow?”

Raphael shook his head wildly:

-“I need to know now, or it will keep me awake all night, and therefore will prevent you from sleeping.”

I let out a deep sigh. I knew I had to give in to defeat with grace.

-“The moon is not made of cheese. Every baby knows that.” he pouted.

-“The moon is made of solidified lava, iron, nickel, and crystals.” I told him.

-“How heavy is the moon, nana?” was his next question.

-“Raphael please, I don´t know and I am very tired. Tomorrow we can do some research and look it all up, okay.” I was already out of the room when I heard :

-“Is the moon a he or a she?” It was clear there wasn´t the slightest intention of sleeping any time soon. 

-“A she.” I replied.

-“Please tell me a story.” He begged with a squeaky voice.

-“One short story,” I started to set out my terms, “and then you go to sleep.” Raphael nodded his head.

-“Promise!” I insisted. He held out his pinkie to seal the deal.

-“Scoot!” I said and curled on the bed next to Raphael.

-“Once upon a time the moon was called Sin.” I started off the top of my head.

-“Sin? What a strange name!” Raphael remarked.

-“Not Sin, as in wrongdoing, but SIN. That was his name.” I clarified for peace´s sake.

-“Wait a second.” He stopped me again, “Isn´t the moon a she?”

-“God give me strength please.” I whispered. “Back in Mesopotamia, the moon was a man who rode a bull. He had a long blue beard made of precious gems and his bull had wings.”

-“Where did they fly too?” he wanted to know.

-“They rode out to find children who refused to sleep.” I said, “And now it´s time to sleep, young man!”

-“You promised me a story!” Raphael protested.

-“And I told you one.” I replied.

-“No, you didn´t.” he answered right back.

-“What do you mean?” I asked him.

-“You gave me the first line of a story, that´s all. Nothing happened.” He moped.

-“Good night, Raphael.” I said and jumped off his bed.

-“That is the dumbest story I have ever heard.” He kept whining. I switched out the light and hurried out of his room and straight into mine.

I threw myself on the bed and took a few deep breaths. The phone rang…. A very persistent ring, one that doesn´t stop after 30 seconds.

-“Leave a message.” I thought. But no, it stopped for a short while and began ringing again. 

-“Amy!” I said picking up without even looking at the screen. “I´m in desperate need of some sleep.”

She wouldn´t have it.

-“You´re the most selfish friend I know. Haven´t you noticed?” she started 

-“Noticed what?” I sighed

-“Tonight, the moon is not only full, it´s also very bright.”

-“I´m tired, Amy.” I tried.

-“Don´t ignore my feelings.” She started sobbing.

-“ You sound like a lunatic.” I hoped to anger her just enough to make her hang up the phone.

-“Of course, I do.” She yelled, “I have been tossing and turning and even howling at my pillow.”

-“Don´t you have a boyfriend to kiss in the moonlight, Amy?” I asked. “They say it´s very romantic.” She started crying even louder. I forgot her boyfriend had dropped her, just a week earlier.

- My God, I thought. What have I done to deserve this nocturnal mayhem?

-“There is evidence, you know.” Amy continued sniffling, “insomnia is linked to the moon. The full moon!” she emphasized the last part with a deep voice.

-“So is aggression.” I said dryly.

-“There is a correlation between sleep cycles and the moon.” She continued

-“I want a correlation with my pillow.” I replied. “The moon has been blamed for so many things. Wear a mask or something and meditate yourself to sleep.”

I could hear her crying again. Now I started to feel guilty:

-“Amy, you suffer from lunar insomnia. I, on the other hand, can't detect these symptoms in myself. You are susceptible to a placebo effect. You go to bed, expecting not to sleep. And it is this that causes you to have a restless night. You set yourself up! Take a bath Amy or read a book…” she didn´t let me finish my sentence:

-“Or talk to a friend!” she snapped.

-“Do you know what illusory correlation is, Amy?” I asked. “It is the perception of an association that does not exist.” I sat up, and continued, “ Like all the babble about the full moon. Study after study shows that the full moon has no bearing on human behavior or biology. If your emotions are aloof right now, it´s because your dumbass boyfriend dropped you last week. Believe me, you would feel this way, full moon or not. Horror movies tricked us into thinking the moon affects us. And you know something else, Amy?” I paused to hear if she was still awake.

-“Hmm.” Is all she said.

-“There´s another way to look at the moon. All moons are good moons! Have you noticed that in summer the moon has a different texture? Like waxy nougat from the far ends of the middle east. A dark treat, chewing its way down your throat. Like love on your tongue, and with that, the knowledge that there is not a single reason in the world to be afraid or restless.” I tried to soothe her,

-“Amy?” I asked, “Amy, are you still there?” there was no answer. She must have fallen asleep.

Thank God, I thought to myself. I pulled away the covers and nestled myself in bed.


March 22, 2022 17:29

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Michał Przywara
20:41 Mar 31, 2022

Ha! Funny story, especially with that ending. And the way Raphael tears the story apart, I wonder if he's maybe a future writer :)


F.O. Morier
18:37 Apr 02, 2022

🤣😂🤣😂 Funny you should say so. His teacher told his mom last Friday he’s been telling everybody he’s going to be a writer when he grows up… Thank you so much for your comment!


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06:54 Mar 31, 2022

Poor Nana, please let her sleep. I was having insomnia while reading this, but now I feel I own it to Nana to go to sleep or at least try. Beautiful story, very engaging. Great job!


F.O. Morier
18:11 Mar 31, 2022

Oh, my word!!!! If you were here, I would kiss you! Thank you so much for this nice comment. You made my day and warmed my heart. Bless you, for that! Feel hugged, please! Thank you so much for being the ray of sun in my otherwise very dark and dreary day!


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