On the nights she couldn’t sleep – Alice

car llights showing through curtainsOn the nights she couldn’t sleep, Alice would lie very still in her narrow bed staring at the ceiling.  Their house wasn’t in the centre of town, but it was on the main route between the town centre and the next town along, and cars would travel frequently along it at night, their headlights tracking lines through the gap in the pink curtains and along the ceiling; Alice would count them as they passed.  Usually there were more travelling left to right, going into town, but on the nights when she was awake really late, or had woken up again early in the morning, there were more frequent journeys in the other direction.  Alice always told herself that if she could count up to fifty cars passing in the same direction without missing one, then she would fall asleep.  Some nights it must have worked, because she could not remember more than around ten cars, but on other nights she would complete her set of fifty and still be lying wide awake; those times she would reassure herself that the problem was that she must have missed a car or two.  It couldn’t be that the system didn’t work – she couldn’t bear the thought that she had no way to get to sleep. The method worked, she was convinced; she just hadn’t done it right.  So she would start again from the beginning, determined that this time she would count correctly and be rewarded with restful sleep.

Sometimes as she lay there she would hear a creak from somewhere in the house, and then she would stiffen, eyes wide, listening for the next sound.  These days, of course, anything she did hear was just her parents coming to bed or the house settling for the night, the wood creaking as it cooled.  Once, just after they had heating installed, her door had developed a crack in the wood, a wide crack running from the top downwards about six inches away from the edge, and she had stood and watched the crack growing as it moved downward.  Dad had told her it was the wood drying out in the new heat; all she knew was that from that point forward her door didn’t shut properly.  Up until then, she had always kept her door firmly shut.  She had come to the conclusion that if her door was shut someone could lock her in, but if it was open they could come in without waking her, and that was far worse.  She had never explained this logic to anyone, of course – what would be the point?  But now her door was pushed ajar but not fastened, so she would tense and listen carefully if anyone approached it from the other side.

Since last Sunday night, Alice had reached fifty cars at least once each night, and had dragged herself out of bed in the mornings barely in time to reach the bus stop.  Now that it was finally Friday evening and time for the weekend, she had reached her limit, and was sure that tonight it would work, tonight she would lie in bed and close her eyes and she would sleep through until the morning.  At least, that was until she had reached home, let herself in as usual with her key and walked into the sitting room to see HIM sitting there.


Previous Post
Next Post
Leave a comment


  1. Like it 🙂

    I’ve nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award 🙂 Please don’t feel obligated to accept, but if you’d like to take part here’s the link:


    • Aw ty – I’ll look at it properly at the weekend, it’s a bit rushed this week what with report deadline looming and all, but I’ll be trying to get some proper writing done this weekend.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: