Posted on April 11, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair4.11.2014 Journal Prompt April 11, 2014: She dreamed in color. Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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Used to be I’d fall asleep on trains and buses and in cars. It must have been the rocking motion or the rolling noise of engines. I remember my mam and she boasted I could sleep on the sharp edge of a knife and everyone made soft faces and thought me cute. But that was when I was small enough I could fit into a shopping bag.
Under tables or in cupboards, sometimes, and that was cute too, except when I started school mam and da began to worry. Once they found me curled up in the laundry basket with the clothes that needed ironing and they took a picture of that and put it in a frame.
‘He’ll sleep through the Day of Judgement,’ Aunt Alice said, and she was not being kind for she was a busy body, mam said, and always doing. And Aunt Alice made a noise with her mouth, her lips pursed like a kiss, and blowing air – the noise of a horse sighing and impatient, and I half expected her to stamp her foot and shake her head and her hair flying.
The doctors took some blood and they said it was for testing. In case I was anemic, they said. They used a needle to pull it out and it stung like a wasp. Mam nodded her head when he said testing and she looked for more in what he said. ‘Nothing to worry about,’ the doctor reassured. ‘He looks chipper enough right now.’ But then I fell asleep on the bus home and I slept right till it was our stop and mam had to shake me to wake me.
‘There’s a sickness you can get from a fly in Africa and if you are bitten then you sleep for a hundred years, like Rip Van Winkle.’ That’s what my granda told me. He’s as old as hundred I reckon and he must be wise. ‘It’s a testy fly,’ he said. Our mam bought a brown twist of sticky flypaper to hang up in the house just in case.
I fell asleep on the toilet once, and dad thought I was reading a mucky book and he climbed up the drainpipe and in through the window to find out different. He had mucky books in a box under his bed, but I would never fall asleep reading one of those and it’s not really reading when it’s mostly pictures.
The blood tests came back fine and the doctor said I was a growing boy and it was probably just that. Mam mentioned granda’s testy fly, but the doctor laughed and he said maybe I’d pricked my finger on a spindle like sleeping beauty. Mam didn’t know what a spindle was and nor did granda and so I thought the doctor had just made that up.
Then one day a girl called Elsie came to stay. She was a second cousin or something twice removed. Her mam was in the hospital and making a sister for Elsie, and her da was away for a spell. So Elsie stayed with is. And she was ages with me and she smelled of flowers and her hair was pretty in ribbons. She settled in a chair in the front room and slept though it was the afternoon.
Mam said, ‘Bless,’ and she covered Elsie with a blanket to keep her warm. She’d never done that for me. I sat in the chair opposite and pretended to read when in truth I watched Elsie unfolding into sleep. It was the prettiest thing ever and it made me feel a little funny inside and I afterwards could not eat my dinner. Granda said there was something in the air and he said it was love and he said if it wasn’t love then it was the measles or chickenpox.
Granda swore when it turned out it was the measles and he blamed the Germans for that, just like he blamed them for most things that went wrong in his world. And Elsie couldn’t go home to her mam or see her sister until we were all better and that was weeks or months. And after that I was cured of the sleeping sickness and Aunt Alice said it was a miracle and she said that God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. But our mam doesn’t believe in God and neither does our da.