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Child of Night This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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I laid motionless, but my brain was spinning. I felt as though at any moment the top bunk would come crashing down and squish me. I stared up in amazement, happy with every breath I took. The view from my bottom bunk wasn't interesting, but due to my lack of fatigue I entertained myself with endless possibilities. I used my hands to hold my eyes open so I would not sleep. Some people didn't wake up from sleep, why would I want to do such a thing? I could hear dishes crashing in the kitchen. Voices talking. As a seven year old I felt my body had endless limitations. What if I missed something important?


"Mom," I yelled loudly, ignorant to my sleeping siblings. She came rushing into my bedroom. "What's the matter Justine," she quietly whispered to me. Nearly in tears I whimpered, "I can't stop thinking." Her face told a story of confusion but she calmly said, "Just close your eyes and try to think about sleeping." "Mom," I said, "when I close my eyes I try to think about what color my eyes are seeing and decide what it should look like and I can't decide!" She reassured me, "just try to sleep, Justine."


Since my existence I have never found sleeping to be particularly easy,
it's actually very difficult for me. for most people sleep is a wonderful end to their day, its relaxing, calm and rejuvenating, none of which appeal to me. Sleep is the evil in my life. It's the one thing that doesn't make sense to me. Every situation and challenge I look towards with determination and an eagerness to gain knowledge, but sleep is impossible. It is the winning lottery ticket that chances are I'll never find. No matter how hard I try to find new ways to trick my mind into sleeping, nothing works. My body and mind still believe they are young and limitless. Alone with your covers as a shield you can face fears, worries, anxieties, fantasies & much more.


One particular night I was laying in bed as usual. I’d already taken my nightly water break. I heard my dad come through the door loudly. I debated on getting up to say hello but decided against it. I remember the house being silent. Slowly it began to get louder. Dishes moving. Voices getting louder. Lots of movement. I snuck out of bed to sit near the ajar door. I listened to the grown up fight. Every moment passed felt like an hour. At one point I heard my mom cry out. I marched into the kitchen. My parents saw me and suddenly everything was quiet again. “Are you ok,” I nervously asked. “Yes I’m okay, let’s go back to bed,” my mom reassured me as we walked back to my room. I finally feel asleep next to her.


As a child of the night, I was unknowingly subjected to a lot of adult conversations. At the time these experiences seemed insignificant in my life, but looking back I can see that they were not. I learned what happened if adults fight. I learned why adults fight, and how. Watching my parents struggle as a couple for so many nights taught me a lot. I became independent and mature thanks to them. I learned how fear could disable someone thanks to them, and I decided to be fearless. I watched my younger siblings feed into their fantasy of every day life, and felt powerful for knowing the truth. After seventeen years I still do not sleep regularly. Looking back I can see the independent and courageous young girl who feared nothing. Unlike normal little girls she did not fear the dark, or being alone, she welcomed it with a sense of determination for knowledge. This mindset has grown with me. There have been innumerable struggles and many difficult school assignments, but I’ve welcomed them all and conquered them.


To this day, when I lie in bed and can not sleep I think back to what color my eyes are seeing. It's red, then blue, then a yellow square appears. I can decide to choose whatever color, shape, or scene I want it to be. I'm free to think about any thing. Maybe someday I'll fly a plane. Or swim with sharks. My mind is a place that is only mine, no one can judge it or talk harshly because they are unaware of my numerous thoughts. Laying alone in the dark has helped me work through struggles. Sleep happens to be my arch-nemesis. Reality wants me to get rest and sleep, but my mind doesn't approve. My mind wants to be able to run free and chose it's own fate, and that is what I’m doing.





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