The alarm clock blinked and showed another minute had gone by just reminding the insomniac of what she wished she could do. It was 2:48. Sleep was a fickle thing to her. Even in childhood, it played hide and seek, now it just teased her to no end. She might as well have been playing Dungeons and Dragons hoping to roll a 20 in sleep, only to always receive a 1 despite the odds.
Sadie had mixed feelings about the night sky. In regards to what it looked like, the black abyss had no faults. Gorgeous stars sprinkled across it occasionally accompanied by an airplane or a satellite. Searching for such things used to be her favorite thing to do when camping. However, now every night she marked the sky as a signal of a long hard journey ahead.
As time went by, no success was made at any type of rest imaginable. At 3:26, Sadie gave up altogether. She sat up in her small room. She had a winter class tomorrow at 9:00, she was going to be so exhausted. There was no problem with her feeling tired. In fact, the feeling of exhaustion never left her. She was constantly haunted with yawns and shadowed by the dark bags under her eyes. The lack of sleep made its presence known in any way it could. She was just a tiny bit above average height by being 5'6 which wasn't strange, but her weight was always a mystery. In her childhood, she had always been underweight. There were times where she was as far off the growth curve as possible. Her pediatrician had even threatened a feeding tube. Currently, she had a weight that was average but her height gave her a willowy(to put it nicely) appearance. Meaning she was extremely lean in every way. Sadie's face was not hollow but it clearly defined her cheekbones and gave the appearance of contour.
Most girls would be jealous of her figure, but Sadie held no value in her body. She wore no crop tops or short dresses. She rarely even wore a sweater without a tank top underneath for modesty. She wanted to have people see her for her mind and personality than her looks. Instead, people saw her as shy and insecure and made no attempt to get to know her in general. She only took that as an opportunity, the rare friends that she did meet one afternoon in high school showed their true colors and trustworthiness which was how she still stayed in touch with them even during college.
Sadie was a kind and compassionate girl. She took classes to be a nurse and was currently in the middle of a winter program to be a nurse's aide. It was supposed to be a great experience. But the only thing she managed to do was evade the escape of imagination in dreams. Shrugging off the covers, she stood and walked shivering to her dresser. The apartment complex was nice but for some reason, her bedroom was the only unheated room in the entire house. After examining every problem he could think of, Sadie's dad gave up and just paid for a space heater to sit in the corner of the room.
The insomniac turned on the space heater and stood in front of it while changing into a fuzzy sweater and jeans. Sadie knelt down and found her favorite pair of leather boots that only came up to above her ankle.
After hiding her dark blonde hair in a grey beanie and shrugging on a heavy coat, she opened her door and trudged out into the snow. Sadie had no fear in walking at night, for one thing, she was in her hometown. Her neighborhood was quiet and she knew almost everyone around, she had faith that no kidnappers were hiding on the streets. And for another thing, she carried pepper spray and knew a fair amount of self-defense, so if anyone ever tried anything on her, they'd regret it.
As she walked down the street, she listened to the silence. Snow was an amazing material. Each snowflake sparkled in the street lights while also swallowing any of the usual noises that the wind would provide.
Sadie walked further until she had reached her old elementary school. At this point, she chuckled to herself. The small building that had once been a prison to her had now become her refuge. Sadie had hated elementary school because of the way so many people had teased her, but now the night only revealed the ghosts of their laughs and how insignificant they were.
The crunch of snow underfoot kept going until she reached the swings. Sadie sat down and gently pushed herself as she looked at the sky. There were no stars tonight only on account of the snow. Instead of searching for satellites, the girl simply stuck out her tongue and let the delicate flakes fall onto her.
Sadie mindlessly hummed a song by the Beatles to herself as she kept swinging. Darkness was scary because it was uncertain, Sadie was sure that's why so many people had fears of it. Anything could be out of your line of vision. However, it was calming to Sadie. The dark sky gave her a blank slate to think and imagine.
She let the silence wash over her and fuel a string of thoughts ranging from what to get her mother for Christmas to the handwashing skill she had to master by the end of the week. Her eyes fluttered closed and her head rested on the chain of the swing. While sleep was a mile away, she let her thoughts take her to foreign lands. She could feel the snowflakes on her eyelashes and the sting from the cold metal of her earrings that she forgot to take out before she went to bed. While her fingers began to lose heat, her mind jetted from thought to thought.
Only, after a few minutes, her oasis of silence was cut short by the soft voice of someone, "Hello?"
John blinked his eyes open as he woke up at home. He'd come home for winter break and while his parents hated mornings, he could never wake up any time past five. He had no trouble with sleep the moment his head hit the pillow, but the moment his eyes opened again, he couldn't fall back asleep.
John stretched and looked at the clock. 4:30. Huh, go figure. He changed and into the kitchen to drink his share of coffee. Just because he could wake up early, it doesn't mean he was fully functional. At 4:50, he had nothing to do and was wide awake, so he decided to take a walk.
Stepping outside his front door, John immediately slipped on ice. Of course, he did. After regaining his balance, he explored the neighborhood.
In truth, John hadn't really lived there that long, but he was born there. He only had time to attend first grade before being pulled away to live across the state. Now he sought to explore what he might've known if he'd never moved. Christmas lights winked at him as he made his way past a small park and a middle school. It was when he approached his old elementary school that he grew curious.
Sitting all alone on the swings was a girl. She looked about his age. A grey beanie graced her head which leaned against the chain. Her eyes were closed but he could hear her humming a melody. He knew he'd heard it before but the song wasn't exactly recognizable without words. Somehow it was still strangely beautiful. The girl was calm and she almost seemed to be sleeping. Her arm hooked around the chain and tucked her hand back into her pocket. The song wasn't the only thing unfamiliar. John stared at the girl's face thinking, I know her . . . but who is she?
If she was asleep, she was going to freeze soon. John hesitated. If she was awake, why would she choose now to walk around? John had never met anyone who could beat his early morning time. However, if she was sleeping, what made her come here? He shook his head. The only way to know was to ask. He walked up to the girl slowly.
"Hello?" he asked softly.
The girl jumped slightly and opened her eyes. He couldn't see them very well, but even in the dark, they seemed to stare back at him with a sense of wiseness. As if they'd seen 100 lifetimes. She said nothing but stood up and backed away from John.
"What are you doing here?" John curiously asked.
The girl merely sighed and said, "Trying to make time pass by faster."
John smiled. "Early morning?"
"I wish." She responded. "Extremely late night."
John raised his eyebrows. She was literally the complete opposite of him. "What's keeping you up?"
A sigh went sent into the air along with a warm cloud of steam. "Heck if I know,"
John felt awful, he might be up early but he always had this ability to go to bed by 9 at least. "Have you tried -"
His advice was cut off, "Melatonin? Benadryl? Sleepy Time Tea? Deep Breaths? Thinking of something nice? Using lavender spray? White noise? Meditation? Antidepressants? Getting sleeping pills from the doctor?"
John bit his lip in embarrassment before trying to reduce the tension, "Well, did you?"
He sat down on the swings and began to let it sway back and forth as she answered, "Yes, I even threw out a picture frame because my friends tried using a pendulum to see if anything spiritual was off in my life. They proposed it was cursed."
John laughed. "I mean, maybe they just thought the wrong item was cursed."
The girl gingerly sat in the swing next to his. "Well, I guess I'll just have to throw everything that I own out."
John shrugged. "It's worth a shot."
The sky began to lighten and turn a dark blue. The two continued to swing side by side.
"Not to be rude or anything," the girl spoke, "but uh, are you meeting someone or am I just a fascinating case to you."
John shrugged again, "I mean, I thought you were asleep or dead. That was the initial cause for talking to you but yes, now that you mention it, I am interested."
The girl simply laughed, "Great, Ava's gonna laugh at that."
John turned his head to her confused. "That I thought you were dead?"
She nodded. "Her humor is specifically engineered to only be activated at my expense of dignity."
"I can see that, but it's just the way my family works. I'd still die for her any day."
John thought for a second, "What has she laughed at before?"
The girl smiled at him and took a deep breath, "Well, for starters . . ."
The two traded stories back and forth as the sun began to rise. John kept running through names that he thought might've belonged to this girl. Sure, he'd only just met her, but he knew her face from somewhere.
John glanced at her once again when Golden Hour struck. Her face was lit up with an orangey glow. John was caught in a trance. Her eyes were this greyish blue that had a vine of green running around the pupil. They glittered and changed after he stared for a while into a vibrant blue and then went back to their grey tint.
"Um, are you against Texas or something?" The girl scrunched her eyebrows together in confusion.
John shook himself out of his stare, "I'm sorry, what?"
The girl smiled, rolled her eyes, and said, "Whatever, it's not important." She checked her watch and stood up. "Sorry, I have a class in a little bit and they require us to be early.
John stood up too. 7:30? What had happened to the time? She began to walk to the edge of the playground before he ran after her asking, "Wait, what's your name?"
She didn't even stop. She turned around and walked backward saying, "Sadie, and you?"
"Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, John." She said while turning around and disappearing around a corner.
John walked back to his house, his mind intensely focused on anyone who he'd met named Sadie in his entire life.