It is late at night and I am lying in bed staring at the alarm clock. TWO AM. I can hear the ice cube maker rattling in the kitchen. I am aware of the sigh of the furnace leaking through the vent near the foot of my bed. I have restless restlessness syndrome. Off go the covers.
I am too hot.
Maybe another blanket 'cause now I'm too cold.
Okay. I'll read. I pull out a book, fluff up my pillows and snuggle down. Yes. This is more like it.
Wait. Maybe I could have some cheese and crackers.
Off to the kitchen. Well, let's see, maybe cheese and crackers and a few pretzels and some leftover chicken. I carry my loaded plate and fumble through the darkness.
I am alone in my house. All the significant others are on the road tonight. Too late to call anyone and the truth is I was looking forward to the solace. It's good to be alone sometimes. To putter and mess around doing just what you feel like doing or doing nothing at all. Like NOT making your bed, or painting your toenails fire engine red and dancing to the oldies on the radio.
Eating cheese and crackers in bed at TWO AM while reading a good book is an adventure. Or it should be. However, now I have crackers in the sheets and under the pillow, so I am shaking out my bedclothes, sweeping the crumbs onto the floor. Now I am getting out the vacuum cleaner to sweep up the cracker crumbs, and I stub my toe on the bedpost. As I sit on the floor rubbing my sore toe, I glance under the bed and see dust motes huddled in fear and loathing. So I make my way back into the kitchen pantry to fumble around for the attachment for the vacuum. You know where this is going, right? I am lying on my stomach dueling with dust motes that don't stand a chance against my determination.
I stand. Victorious. I have vanquished the errant crumbs and the sneaky dust devils.
As I rewind the cord to the vacuum, I check the time.
Two. Oh. Ten. A and M.
Yes. I remember. The rules of the insomniac's road. First, get out of bed and do something useful.
Two, climb back in bed, close your eyes and lie perfectly still.
I open one eye. I spy the little light flashing on the smoke detector in the ceiling. Blink. Blink. Blink.
Rhythmic little winks.
I open my other eye. Blink. Blink. Blink.
Something in me relaxes. I shake out my fists. Unclench my jaw.
Blink. Blink. Blink.
It's talking to me I think.
One means YES. Two blinks means NO.
Remember, it's just me here. No one can see. So I start up a conversation.
Asking, I say, can't hurt. Maybe it can actually help.
Wishing isn't foolish, it's just a way to visualize what seems at the time, impossible.
Catching one's breath helps slow down the scary thoughts.
And talking to a smoke detector in the middle of the night is perfectly normal.
Got it. Think I'll go out and stand on the porch. In the moonlight.
Find me a star.
And make a wish.
Because...things are not always what they seem. Once in awhile, what looks like a star in the night sky is actually a door left slightly ajar...
...opening to let a ball of light, a tiny burst of energy, to escape and land smack dab in the middle of the empty place that needs filling.
To bed, on the wings of a wish and a prayer.
Safe and sound.
Everyone needs a night light now and then.