Sleep would elude her once again. She felt it maneuvering away from her grasp. She would do almost anything for a sound night’s sleep. With every step sleep took further away from her, fear took one move closer.

She was not afraid of anything specific, yet Gessie would find herself terrified throughout the course of the night. Every night, while varying slightly, was always the same as the night before. A favorite show – a cooking competition, a crime drama, or something from decades before she was ever a thought let alone conceived – played in the background. Gessie would be bundled deeply into her couch, surrounded by a mountain of blankets, a fortress of pillows, and the occasional book, magazine, or crafting activity on the couch but just out of reach. Her head would begin to dance with the sound of the tv – lower sound, lower head; louder sound, lifted head. She would fold further into herself as if preparing to sleep. Then she would realize through a loud commercial or new episode that she was still on the couch.

Gessie would change the show over to something she had seen before, definitely something lighthearted, and nothing that would pull her further into the warm and fuzzy blankets, and her sweet spots broken into the couch. She would watch without getting overly invested. The tiredness set in by her stillness would dissipate. She would glance around her living room looking at all of the things she could have done, but didn’t. Because she was relaxing. Relaxing was good for her – it was something she always deserved.

She would look at her project pile, most of them started, all of them not yet completed. She was certain she had a project or two in that pile that was older than her nephew, all of them would be older than her newest nephew, not yet born. With every observation Gessie made, sleep took one more step away from her. She would return her focus to whatever show she had put on, punctuating the pauses where the commercials used to be with random thoughts. With every thought she felt the trembles of fear closing in on her. When her show was finished, Gessie would unwrap herself from her couch kingdom and turn off the downstairs. All the lights would be shut off, the electronics powered down, and a few select items would be unplugged. Standing at the bottom of the stairs Gessie would do a look around of the rooms she could still see, primarily the door. After confirming it was locked, she would head upstairs and begin a pattern of turning on all of the lights from the top of the stairs in the hallway to her bedroom, on the opposite side of the house facing the street. She would backtrack, occasionally with an additional purpose, usually just to glance at the door once more, this time from the top of the stairs, to make sure it was locked.

Sleep being the furthest thing from Gessie’s mind, had long since been left downstairs. The fear would walk behind her in the dark, as she continued on her route back toward her room, shutting the house lights as she went. Whether it was an attempt to keep the fear out in the hallway or just a force of habit, Gessie would always close the door to her bedroom, walkover to her nightlight turn it on, along with her oil diffuser, and return back to the only lightswitch in her room. Taking off her pajama pants, underwear, and bra, Gessie would shut the light, hang her bra on the back of her door, drop her pants by the foot of her bed, and toss her thong into the laundry basket before getting in to bed. Her glasses would be left on her nightstand along with a glass of water she wouldn’t drink until the morning or what she got home from work the next day. For the next few hours, Gessie would lay in her bed, under a sheet, a comforter, and two blankets staring at various things in her room. Most of the time, laying on her side, Gessie would systematically touch the wooden bat she shared her bed with, or lay looking at the blurry end of it. Eventually she would relax enough to close her eyes – not fully closed, but neither was she fully asleep. Gessie would begin to plan the next day. Her outfits, what she would eat, what she would do, and all the things that would be better in the light of day. Since sleep would elude her once again.

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