Any given weekend in Monikaville U.S.A….
I go to bed. I know that's early but I have to work in the morning. I turn the T.V. on. Something funny. I have to go to sleep laughing or I don't sleep at all.
"Are you sleeping?"
"Of course not I have only been in bed two minutes."
"Can Sarah and I make snow cones?" I think about that before answering. The ice shaver is obnoxiously loud. Can I handle that right now? Okay it will only be going for ten minutes before they get bored.
My pillow is over my head. The ice shaver continues to grind. I hear glass breaking and cringe. "You're cleaning that up."
"Quit yelling! You'll wake mom up."
I walk down the stairs, "I'm already up and why did you make so many snow cones?"
"We were trying to see how many we could make with all the ice in the ice maker."
"I've had enough. Get away from this kitchen before you cut yourself. I have to get up in the morning so you guys keep it down." I soak up red Kool-Aid, ice and glass from the floor with handfuls of paper towels. I am the one who cuts myself.
I will try again. I lay down in the bed. My body is so tired. I can feel each limb, each organ drifting off to sleep. Good-night toes and ankles. Good-night kidneys...sweet dreams my elbows.
"YOU SUCK! YOU STUPID JERK."And blah blah blah.
I run down two flights of stairs to the basement.
One son is screaming the other son is laughing because his brother is screaming.
"What is the problem?"
"HE SUCKS IS THE PROBLEM!" the screaming one screams.
I say to the laughing son, "Quit sucking already because I have to go to work in the morning."
Oh the bed, the lovely bed…good-night little toes again…
"Hey we're going to White Castle 's. Do you want anything?" My husband asks nicely. He has his friends over, Saturday night party and such.
"No thanks. I need to get to sleep. I have six hours and twenty eight minutes before I have to get up."
Do I have to go to the bathroom? I can't tell. Kind of feels that way but I just got comfortable and don't want to get up.
I get up and go to the bathroom. Back to bed…good-night my body. I feel it coming, seeping in, the edges get fuzzy, oh God my body is sinking into the bed and I am just beginning to doze…
The phone rings twice and I bolt straight up in bed. Someone must have died. I hear giggles from the girl's room. "He's so cute!"
"Hang up! Hang up and see if he calls back!" Two seconds later the phone rings again. And two minutes after that. And for the next consecutive two minute intervals for the next ten minutes.
I go down stairs and do something I never thought I would do as a grown up. Something I swore when I was her age I would never do to my child. I pick up the extension very quietly and I listen. Twelve year old boys are idiots. "Do you know what time it is?"
"Mom! Get off the phone! How could you?"
"Lily, its twelve fourteen and I have to get up early. The noise needs to stop. And Kyle? You still there? What I heard was that Ashley liked Jake but he wasn't sure if he liked her or if he liked Alyssa but you can tell all the boys period who are asking that Lily is twelve years old and she is not allowed to like any boys and they are not allowed to like her and is it okay if she just goes ahead and calls your house every two minutes and wakes up your parents…"
"MOM! Kyle, hang up the phone quick before she gets any more embarrassing…"
I hang up and wander back upstairs to bed.
My body is falling into the bed again, oh so good each part going to sleep. Good-night my shoulders, hips and liver. Good-night fingers and the top of my nose. Everything going off to dreamland…except my brain is wide awake.
I list the things I need to do the next day in my head. Then I start singing "We all live in the Yellow submarine" under my breath and I can't remember the words. What is the next line? I don't even like this song why am I singing it? We all live in the yellow submarine…why was it yellow anyway? I hate yellow. Purple would have been more interesting. It must really stink in a submarine from all the bodies like sardines and can they shower while they are down there? And my God what kind of food would you eat on a submarine and would I be too claustrophobic being on one? Do they just flush the toilet into the ocean and all the fish just swim in nasty water and do the fish care? Do they actually realize when the water is filthy and filled with sewage? And damn it I forgot to pay the water bill…and I fall asleep somewhere here.
"GET OFF THE PHONE!" the screaming son again.
"I had it first."
"BUT MARISSA IS CALLING ME BACK IN THREE MINUTES."
"Then I'll give it to you when she calls."
"GIVE IT NOW!"
I get up, run down two flights of stairs again. I am stumbling and walking into walls.
"YOU'RE IN FOR IT NOW! MOM'S COMING!"
I stand there with my hands on my hips. I assume the "glare". "Give him the phone so he shuts up."
Eyes are rolling at me from three twelve year old girls.
I turn slowly. I am a terrible mother sometimes. "You know what?" I say with contempt. "YOU ALL SUCK! Especially you suckboy with your loud mouth."
Wide awake I am. I am just too keyed up to sleep. Darn kids. Why are there so many children here all the time? Can't they stay in someone else's house? All these kids thinking they should be having fun when I am trying to sleep. They are slamming cabinet doors in the kitchen and I hear chip bags rattling, pop cans opening, giggles coming again.
When did I get so old? They're just kids for Pete's sake. When did I start thinking laughter was noise when it has always been music to my ears? I need to stop being so uptight and….What the heck is in the corner there?
What is that? It looks like a bat but there aren't any bats here. Wait! I saw one last summer flying out of the trees. I think I sang the theme song to Scooby Doo when my neighbor started screaming. Could one have gotten inside the house? Oh god get up all ready and see what it is or you will never fall asleep. But what if it gets in my hair? Uhg! What is that?
I have the covers pulled up to my chin because I have talked myself into believing it is a vampire bat. I seal the edges of the sheets with my fingers because I don't want it to get under the covers. I don't want vampires nibbling on my neck. I hear low breathing…the door creaks. WHAT IS THAT? There are glowing eyes across the room moving slowly I am paralyzed trying to scream as it moves so close to my face and then…licks my nose. "Stupid dog! Get out of here." I jump up and turn the light on.
Nothing there but a shadow in the corner.
The television is blaring an infomercial. "You can be a millionaire…"or something of that sort. Nothing is on. But I leave it on because at least there is some light in the room and I won't have to worry about bats because they hate the light.
I start thinking I may need to go to the bathroom. I get up and go because I know as soon as I am ready to doze off I will have to go then. The house is relatively quite at the moment. There are underlying sounds of laughter. Laughter is good but I am too tired to appreciate it.
Back to bed with my mind that refuses to be quiet. I am thinking about my next story and writing it in my head. I want to get up and turn on the computer but I know I better not or I will be up all night. I start scaring myself a little. Thinking about revolving doors and what happens when we go through them. What if we went somewhere other than where we were supposed to? What if I step out into a world full of bats? Why am I thinking about bats again? I am not even usually afraid of bats or snakes or mice or things like that. I just hate the utter dark, the black under the bed ( stop thinking about what can reach up and grab your foot that is hanging over the edge) and clowns…and I wonder about the clown painting that my daughter finally decided was creepy and propped up against the wall in the hall rather than have it in her room. I haven't moved it because I can't seem to bring myself to touch the horrible thing. I picture their horrid faces and my heart is immediately racing…
I will think of sky instead. Blue sky with a loan hawk flying overhead that spots the maniacal clown in the painting and dive bombs him before he gets me. Red shoes lie in the dirt and his creepiness is being picked apart by the vultures. Or are they called buzzards? Are they the same bird or are they two completely separate things…
Sleep steps in here somewhere.
My cell phone is ringing. Someone has died for sure.
"Is Lily there?"
I am fuming. "Why are you calling my cell phone at 2:23 in the morning?"
"Well Nate wouldn't click over and let me talk to Lily."
"What is so God awful important that you have to call her at 2:23 in the morning?"
"Well Kyle wanted me to tell her that he likes her and…"
"Go to bed."
And so on…I am watching the minutes change on the digital clock. I at the moment am obsessed with the time. I don't wear a watch because I break them and lose them. I am obsessed with the time this moment though any other time I never know what time it is and I annoy people by asking what time it is constantly. I am obsessed with the time because I realize there is so little left before the alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. I watch that red glaring clock change. I hear the almost inaudible click as it does and I obsess over the time that I am not sleeping, that I am losing…and so on.
WHUMP, WHUMP, WHUMP, WHUMP, WHUMP or maybe it is THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP. Whatever it is, it sounds like the house is coming down around me. I run down stairs to the basement. The noise is coming from there.
It is my oldest son pounding his speed punching bag. I attempt to assume a look of disgust but don't quite make it.
"What are you doing?" I giggle.
"Jesus you scared me."
"What are you doing?" I ask again and I am laughing hard.
"I couldn't sleep. Why are you laughing?"
"No reason. Everyone else is sleeping." I tell him to go to bed. I laugh all the way upstairs. The rest of the house is quiet.
I still can't sleep.
You know how this ends already. The alarm rang.
People often ask where I get my ideas from. I never know how to answer that question. I guess sometimes life is ridiculous enough that it's worth writing about.
Monika M. Basile