Calliope’s Coffee House is a blog about books, writing and reviewing (she is a fellow reviewer at LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers group). She recently started a writing challenge called The Calliope Experiment in which she posts a picture on Saturdays, then asks people to write 500 words about it and post it before the following Saturday (read about it HERE). I am not a professional writer by any means, but this sounded like fun, so I’m giving it a try. Here’s the picture and my story to go with it. I’m calling it The Sleepless Night.
2:48am. Exactly 4 minutes since the last time I looked at the clock. Exactly 3 hours and 12 minutes before the alarm is set to go off. The storm rattled the windows and terrified the cat earlier (I’ve got a lovely scratch to prove it), but it is peaceful now, with the moon shining through the window and a little breeze stirring the lace curtains. So where the hell is Joey? I started calling his cell phone at midnight, since he said he’d be home by 11. Call after call goes straight to voice mail. I’ve asked him repeatedly to make sure his phone is on if he’s going to be out late. Why does he insist on making me worry like this? Even if he is practically a legal adult (8 more days), he knows I can’t get to sleep until I hear his key in the lock. And God knows I need the rest.
3:09am. This just doesn’t feel right. He’s not a perfect kid, but he’s a good kid, and it’s a school night. He’s a high school senior, almost a man, but he’s still my baby, my firstborn. At what point do I call the police? Do I wait until morning? Would they even do anything right now? I can feel the panic rising inside. Should I wake Ann? Maybe he told her where he was going. But she has to get up for school in a few hours too. Where did he say he was going? Or did he say? I don’t think he did. Who has he been hanging out with lately? That Marcus kid’s been at the house a lot but I think he’s just sniffing around Ann. There’s Jeff, but I haven’t seen him in months. Sara- but they broke up, more or less. I can’t think. Who else?
4:08am I sit straight up in bed. “Joey?” I call out. “No, Ma, it’s just me. I had to go to the bathroom. Go back to sleep,” says Ann. “Is your brother home?” I ask, trying to keep the edge out of my voice. “I don’t know, his door’s shut,” she says sleepily. “Honey, knock on his door,” I say. “Ma..” she whines, but does it anyway. No answer. I get up to look out the window. His car is not in the driveway. Shit. Shit. Shit. My mind races from one scary possibility to the next.
4:27am “Ann.” “Ma, what?? I’m sleeping!” “Your brother hasn’t come home. Do you know where he went last night?” “When does he ever tell me anything?”
5:09am I pace the floor. It’s too early to start calling his friends. Ann suggests I send text messages but she has to help me because I’ve never done that before. She texts Marcus, Sara, Jeff, and a few others with the message, “Have u seen Joe?” I try to check his email but I don’t know his password. Ann checks his myspace page but comes up with nothing. Coffee. I need coffee. Ann goes back to bed.
5:48am Headlights across the front window. A car door slams. Dear God, please let it be my Joey and not the police. Please, please, please. I fly to the front door and throw it open. Oh, thank God, it’s him! My baby, my boy. “Where the HELL have you been?” I demand, as I shove him in the chest with both hands. “Ma, chill out. I fell asleep at Sara’s watching tv. I’m sorry,” he says, his eyes puffy and his clothes crumpled. “Dammit, Joe, I was just about to call the police,” I say, and start to cry. “Ma..” he says and puts his arms around me, his little mama. He is a good 6 inches taller than I am. Ann comes down the stairs and says, “Welcome home, jackass.”
Do you like to write? If so, try this fun weekly exercise and be sure to link back here so I can read what you’ve written!