Counting Sheep

January 2, 2008
By Ellie Olszewski, Franklin, TN

It stopped. It paused in mid air. It was my foot, and it was supposed to go from the third step to the fourth. For some peculiar reason, it decided to halt before I could reach that carpet-clad fourth step. I knew what it was trying to do though, I was certain that my foot was trying to gnaw its way at my will to get up the flight of stairs and into my warm, alluring bed. Maybe it wasn’t just my foot though; maybe it was my exceptionally exhausted body too. Quite possibly, my entire conscience was in on the mutiny. No, no way was I going to collapse on that third step and drift away into a deep, unshakable sleep. I hauled my foot onto that fourth step and ascended up the flight of stairs.
I passed through the doorway into my room. There it was. The queen sized mattress seemed to sing. This was it. I could almost feel the warm down comforter drowning me in a sea of plaid. A sudden rush of adrenalin came over me, despite my aching limbs and overwhelming fatigue, and I leaped onto the bed, not even bothering to perform my nightly ritual of setting my alarm, removing my jewelry, and closing my blinds. Who has time for ridiculous things like that anyway? Right now, all I was interested in was sleep. I sunk into the inviting mattress and instantly, my emotions took a dramatic U-turn. The indulging comfort I had expected was far from what I felt. The bed had no satisfaction; it was just a normal mattress. The plaid comforter that I thought would be a sense-tingling experience was the same simple and unpretentious blanket that I stole from my brother when he left for college.
An hour later, I was still lying in the unsatisfying bed, staring at the ceiling. I wanted to turn my head to look at the clock, but why did the time matter anyway? Where was I going? I hear you’re supposed to count sheep if you can’t sleep. Why not? One sheep. He was wearing trousers, suspenders, and a top hat; he jumped over my bed, and I decided to name him Earl. Two sheep. She had ruby slippers and a blue dress; obviously, I named her Dorothy. Three sheep. He had an uncanny likeness to Rainn Wilson; due to the circumstances, his name was Rainn.
This wasn’t working. I already had the full cast of The Brady Bunch and my blinking pace had yet to slow down. I continued to think of ways to help me sleep… nothing. My nose itched. Apparently, if your nose itches, it means you’re bluffing; but from what I could remember, I wasn’t lying about anything at the moment. Or was I? What kind of question is that anyway? People usually ask it to sound mysterious. However, if you do use the phrase, anyone listening immediately recognizes that you are hiding something. I, in this case, am not hiding anything.
I had a thought. It came to me out of the blue. I don’t like that saying. But, back to my original brain wave, I was trying to think of some words to express this emotion I had imagined. Maybe words weren’t the right approach though, maybe it was an expression. Yes, an expression. I shouldn’t insult this sentiment by labeling it with a bunch of little letters. Body language was definitely the right lingo for this feeling. I scrunched my eyebrows together, pursed my lips, and even tried touching my nose with my tongue. I guess this feat would have to wait until another night; I didn’t have the right presentation, yet.
There has to be something to make me fall asleep. I pondered the possible remedies for this inescapable torture. My foot fell asleep. That’s just great. I don’t need my foot right now, and it gets to fall asleep. That’s it! If I can make my entire body fall asleep, chances are, my head will follow right behind the leader into a sumptuous and luxurious slumber. I swear, sometimes I just can’t handle my own brilliance. Here it goes. Seeing as my right foot was tingly and lackadaisical, I started on my quest to make my left foot mimic the other. I was completely still. I tried to breathe as slowly and evenly as possible. Which is absolutely horrible, because once I focus on my breathing I can’t stop thinking about it. Slowly but surely, both of my feet were in their own little size-six trance. I focused on pervading the numbness throughout the rest of my body, like a winter cold saturating the air in a kindergarten classroom. The deadening feeling flooded through my veins, up to my knees, through my funny bone, all the way to the tips of my “My Chihuahua Doesn’t Bite” painted fingernails. I was careful not to get too excited, as I usually do, or I may have disturbed the frozen feeling permeating my entire body. Now it was time for my brain to doze off as well. Nothing.

Would this torture ever end? I need some kind of poison to send me into the forty winks I was hungering after. Peanut butter? No, that’s hiccups. Coffee? No, that would just wake me up more, duh! Milk? Yes, milk. I wouldn’t normally think a drink so simple would do the trick, but I’m hoping it will. I shook out the pins and the needles, stopping to pull one sticky one out of my elbow, and crept out of my door. I can’t see anything. What is with this sheet of blackness hiding the colorful and sun-braced world my living room really is? Where is that darn railing? I grasped the bar that descended alongside the steps.
I could feel my pupils swell to the point where they blanketed my eyes entirely. At least I know there are fourteen steps. Steps one to five. I’m tired… I’m really tired. Why don’t I just go back into my room? It won’t be that hard, I’ll just backtrack a little bit. Steps six through ten. I don’t even like milk. It tastes like cow juice. I could put chocolate syrup in it. Except that just adds sugar, which will wake me up again.
Steps eleven to thirteen. I really should go back upstairs. I am wasting time. I could have fallen asleep by now. Yeah, I think I’ll turn around.
And then it stopped. It paused in mid air. It was my foot. And it was supposed to go from the thirteenth step to the fourteenth. All on its own, it decided to halt before I could reach that carpet-clad fourteenth step. I knew what it was trying to do though, I was certain that my foot was trying to continue its way downstairs to the kitchen. Only this time, it was just my foot. No, no way was it going to win. It’s my turn. I was going to go back to my room and drift away into a deep, unshakable sleep. I hauled my foot back onto that thirteenth step and moseyed up the fourteen steps.
I burst open my bedroom door and leaped onto the plain comforter. It was early morning now, and the sky faded into an ashy color. My clock still shone a fluorescent blue, and my fan still clicked every few seconds, and my dogs, Murphy and Dexter, still slept at the end of the bed. Unfortunately, my bed was still unchanged. Although, this time, I free fell into a deep, unshakeable sleep.

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