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How My Insomnia Woke Up My Neighborhood This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   August eighth was the first day I climbed out onto my roof. It's not a roof, really. It's just the little hood over our front door, but it's made of the same material as the real roof. I don't know why I didn't think of doing it before, or why the idea popped into my head that particular night. If I had to pin down a reason, maybe it was because summer was winding down, and I needed something to do.

Anyway, it was really easy to get out there. There's a window right above the roof and I have a bean bag chair right under the window. I couldn't go to sleep again, so I went and sat in the chair. It was about 1: 30, I guess. My window was already open, because it was hot. I decided to put the screen up, too. And then, I don't know, I stuck my bare legs out, and the rest of me followed.

The roof is pointy, and looks like it might be uncomfortable, but it wasn't bad. It was rounded on the top. I was a little afraid that it would collapse and I would suddenly be sitting on my front steps, surrounded by roof debris, but it was solid and hard and seemed sturdy enough. The only thing that bothered me was the feel of the roof. It was rough and scratchy on my skin. But I supposed that the people who built our house weren't thinking of things like that. After I had seated myself, I looked around.

My street looked different. In the daytime it was a quiet, boring neighborhood. But late at night it was transformed into something special. The shadows from the trees made it look like moving water on the pavement. The moon was out. It was egg-shaped and glowed whenever a thin cloud passed over it. A breeze blew and I breathed it in. It felt like I was breathing the night into my lungs. The scent got in my hair, and even after I was back in bed, I could smell it.

This went on for about two weeks. I would lie in bed and think of all the things I was going to think about when I was outside. Then I would climb out on my roof after everyone else had gone to sleep. But when I got out there, I wanted to think about nothing and just breathe.

Usually a car or two would pass, but I don't think they saw me up there. One time a police car passed and I had visions of them getting one of those megaphone things and yelling at me to get down. But that never happened. Nothing happened at all, until the night of August 23rd.

I was sitting on the roof, doing my usual thing - thinking about nothing - and I must have been really tired that day, because I remember closing my eyes for longer than a blink. Anyway, I pulled my legs up from straddling the roof and crossed them at the ankles out in front of me. I raised my arms to rub my eyes - I was really tired - and then, I lost my balance, and went toppling. By now my eyes were wide open and I remember thinking I was going to land in the shrubs and there was going to be this great, gaping hole where I hit.

I did land in the bushes, and, of course, that made a lot of noise. That - and me kind of yelping when my ankle got twisted underneath the rest of me.

Neighbors I hadn't seen in years came out of their houses to watch me being loaded into the ambulance. They came out in bathrobes, rubbing their eyes as I had. My mother rode in the ambulance with me, and Dad followed in the car. Mom was on her way to being hysterical. I tried to calm her down, and tell her it was no big deal. People fall down all the time. But it was no use. She carried on for a while.

I think everybody made too big a deal of it. The two fire trucks were totally unnecessary. Mom even talked of moving my bedroom to the first floor. All those neighbors took pity on my parents and brought us this funeral-type food. I sprained my ankle; I didn't die!

Things are almost back to normal around here now. I had to beg and plead with my mother to let me keep my room, and she finally gave in. I don't go out on the roof anymore. Sometimes, though, I push up the screen and lean my head out as far as it can go. I breathe the night in and let the smell get in my hair. I spread my hands wide on the top of the roof and feel it, like sandpaper beneath my fingers.n




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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