Cammy laid in the darkness, enveloped by a blanket that was once a present from a former lover, and supported by a couch that found its way into her life following the death of a relative. The hollow silence of the night was cut by wind gusting into the ventilation shaft and a tree branch being blown against the window — indications which seemed to confirm the existence of a world beyond these walls.
Plaster and paneling took on the air of fortifications, but she was unable to concretely decide if they were designed more to keep others from getting in, or to keep her from getting out. And so it was that she remained motionless, praying for sleep to come, and terrified that it would. This fear was tempered only by the pressing weight she felt on her chest — “If I don’t sleep, will the sun ever rise again? Would this day ever end?”
Days had never existed for her within the confines of a clock or calendar, or even by the cycles of the sun and moon. Days were only born anew when she awoke to find them, but sleep never came easy to her.
Cammy was born at 2:22 AM, to a mother well ready to see the day come to a close. As it was told to her many years later, Cammy rarely slept, even as a baby, but would go into a sort of a trance, or altered state, reminiscent of a catatonic.
Sometime after her seventh birthday, Cammy began to find sleep every couple of days. Despite the fact that she would always awaken peacefully, she remained terrified of going to sleep – the transition was continually a hard fought battle. Such as it was, days existed differently for her. Her mother would cross off every day on the calendar with a huge black X so that Cammy would know where everyone else was in time and be able to function accordingly.
Despite the efforts of her mother, in Cammy’s mind she was far behind everybody else. Her days would never catch theirs. Hers were longer, allowing them to be fully savored, while everyone else seemed to be in a desperate hurry for nearly all of the subdivided parts of their days to come to a brisk end. This was something she could never understand.
With the newfound ability to sleep, the trance states disappeared for a while, but came back from time to time, normally about every 4 months.
Now, under the blanket that she had laughed at when first presented to her, (a blanket? Really? She needed/wanted many things, but another blanket was not one of them), and buoyed up by cushions which had seen innumerable visitors, she prayed for the day to end, to find herself just a fraction closer to where the others were.
The sound of the wind in the ventilation shaft grew ever louder, followed quickly by an increasing resonance from the branch at the window. Just as the two were reaching a crescendo, complete silence took over.
Cammy felt the cushions beneath her opening up like the bay doors of a giant World War II bomber, allowing her to fall into whatever recesses laid below. Unable to turn over, she could only see what had already passed her, with no inkling as to what she descended toward.
She fell through various substances — a spider web, a trapeze net, orange Jell-O, a hammock – and finally found her dissent arrested by pasta. As far as she could see, she was completely surrounded by, and floated on top of, cooked pasta. (Corkscrew kind to be exact.) She was momentarily content.
Terrified to close her eyes, she held them open with her fingers for as long as possible. As they began to dry out it became harder and harder, until finally she was unable to resist the overwhelming desire to blink. She knew what would happen when she opened them — no reason to delay the inevitable.
And so she found herself, under the blanket, on the couch, stuck in the same day.
Cammy had always lived on the first floor, but now she began to question how high up she was, and became concerned at the lack of a fire escape.
Staring at the ceiling caused it to rush toward her (or had she risen to it?), and staring at the floor caused it to disappear, leaving only an endless abyss. And so she drifted on her island of a couch, waiting for a message to come from a bottle, plane, smoke signal, passing ship, or talking sea creature. But nothing came.
All that appeared were torn pages of calendars interspersed with circumcised hour and minute hands.
Brushing them aside, Cammy stared at her own hands. She discovered that fixing her attention single pointedly onto them allowed her to gain stability. Unlike everything else that surrounded her, she found they were the only thing that did not change, no matter how long she stared. Softly taking in every delicate line, a calm drifted over her.
She blinked and they remained, fixed, each and every time she opened her eyes. She moved them — first just a finger, then one hand, then both — they didn’t change one bit.
She smiled at them, said “goodnight,” and was fast asleep.
– February 2010