I have a squatter living in my bedroom. He snuck in there one day when I was busy, and now he won’t leave. For some reason, I think the visitor is a “he”; maybe because he’s so annoying. He sure is making me miserable.
My companion waits in my bedroom all day long, probably just lounging around and deciding on topics of discussion. I imagine he makes notes with a scratchy, stubby, little pencil; it gnaws at his paper like a nesting mouse.
I trudge around my daytime life, dreading our next visit. When bedtime comes, I know he’s there on top of my blankets. His arm is propped behind his head like a casual pajama party guest and he’s ready to hiss his gossip.
He scooches over to give me room to slide between my sheets. Sometimes he even pretends to be asleep. And I fall for it, every time. I snuggle onto my side and close my eyes around the dark silence.
Then he pounces.
“Did you lock the front door?” He whispers in the ear that isn’t on my pillow. “You know you didn’t check it.” My eyes pop open. After a few minutes, I decide that I locked the door. I let my eyes drift closed.
“Boy, you sure didn’t get much done today. The laundry is piled sky-high. And why didn’t you email Julia? It’s your turn. She probably thinks you’re dead.”
I flip to my other side and hope Insomnia will fly off from the bounce, but he must have Velcro talons. My muscles tense-I’m TRYING to go to sleep and I know it’s not gonna happen for a long time.
Why is Insomnia visiting me? Is it a symptom of my aging body? Will I have to arrange my life to the “elderly” schedule—supper at 4 p.m., bedtime at 8 p.m., up at 4 a.m.? And if I do, will he just chuckle and start whispering to me earlier?
We chat about all kinds of things in bed each night. The previous day. The next day. What I should have done/said/thought about each interaction of the last 18 hours. Insomnia knows all my secrets; he delights in rehashing all the most troubling ones.
Sometimes I try to drown out his voice with invented mantras. I recite a poem over and over in my head. I list a boy’s and girl’s name for every letter of the alphabet. I even try to remember every boy I’ve ever kissed...in chronological order. C’mon. I’m old. It’s a worthy list.
But those tricks rarely fool my bedmate. He is a pro at interrupting.
“Remember that girl named Renee that you graduated with? Wonder what she’s doing nowadays? That Herbie guy was a sloppy kisser. Just think—he’s an old man now…four years older than you. Did you remember to buy Chapstick? Your lips are chapped. I think you need to go to the bathroom. That’s probably why you can’t sleep.”
Then he chuckles, cracks his knuckles proudly and moves over to let me out. By the time I get back from the bathroom, he’s ready with more topics.
I’m really tired of my bedroom guest. Anybody want a new roommate?
Contact Robin at email@example.com