Sleepy-head

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
About Sleepy-head, who dreams to escape reality.

Submitted: January 10, 2007

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Submitted: January 10, 2007

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The alarm knifed through its head and heart, like a trumpet calling troops into battle, and, like a faithfully apathetic soldier, Sleepy-head responded, rising from the comforting warmth of reality into a stark dream.

It had long ago forgotten its gender, or proper name, and was left with just a title, words from long ago; Sleepy-head, and that was what it called itself, in the confines of its own head. Once, it had known what it really was, but now it no longer mattered, for this wasn’t the real world anyone. This was the nightmare world, full of dull people, grey skies and a pale sun. It was always the same.

It swung its legs out of bed, and got dressed for school. School. It went to school most of the time in this world. It didn’t know why, but the voice had told it school was Important, and the voice knew everything, so of all the things it forgot, it never, ever forgot to go to school. School was too Important.

Sleepy-head walked down the stairs, to a table at which sat another person it saw every morning, and knew vaguely as ‘Dad’.

“Hey,” Dad smiled, gesturing at a grey bowl. “Eat up.”

Sleepy-head walked forwards and began to eat slowly, clumsily, still standing whilst Dad studied it worriedly.

“It’s been a month now, kiddo,” Dad said.

Sleepy-head looked at him blankly, trying to work out what he meant past the fog in its brain…

It heard the screech of tyres over the screams coming from its own mouth and somebody else’s, then there was a thud and blackness…

Its chest constricted, it tried to breathe but couldn’t as a lump rose in its throat. Then it had forgotten again, as visions of the real world, cities on beautiful white clouds, came to soothe it.

Dad hadn’t noticed. “I know it seems like yesterday, and God knows it’s hard, but we need to move on, smile once in a while.”

Sleepy-head didn’t know what Dad was talking about, but could hear the pain in its voice, and wanted to take it away.

 

Sleepy-head walked outside, to the part of this world it dreaded the most. The loud, four-wheeled thing called a ‘car’ that took it to school. Its breathing grew laboured again as it opened the door, hearing screams.

“Shh, darling, it’s just a dream,” the voice soothed. “Don’t be scared.”

It made it to school, walking to a desk and sitting down, allowing the teachers to talk and the kids to play around it while it sat and daydreamed. The voice was pleased with it just for being there, and that was what Mattered.

“Are you alright?” a teacher asked it. It simply nodded, well-rehearsed with this question, and the answer that ended the questioning. Yes. Even though deep within its chest was a feeling of utter sadness and hopelessness that only the real world could heal.

 

The world was growing even duller, which meant it was time to wake up and go back to reality.

“Don’t forget the alarm, Sleepy-head.” It set it, and lay down, the voice washing over it.

“There you go, darling Sleepy-head.” Fingers brushed through its hair, but when it opened its eyes, there was no-one there. “Shh, close your eyes. Sleep, darling Sleepy-head.”  It stood on a grassy field, bright green, against a white sky, in which floated blue-tinged clouds, which held the cities. The real world. It sighed in relief to have escaped the confusing nightmare world, with its choking moments of sadness. “Hello, Sleepy-head.” The voice was all around, so warm and tender, so loving and friendly. “Hello,” Sleepy-head said.

“Where shall we go today?”

Sleepy-head shrugged, smiling and running down the slope, shaking off the pain, now without a care in the world. Only out of it were there worries.  

The alarm interrupted another conversation with the voice, about the cities in the clouds.

“Goodbye, Sleepy-head.”

Dad was holding a letter in its hand. It wasn’t sitting, or smiling, but crying. Sleepy-head walked up behind it and hugged it, crying too, feeling its heart break without knowing why.

“Sorry, kiddo,” Dad whispered into its hair, hugging it. “I didn’t mean for you to see.”

It wasn’t really listening, its ears filled with the sound of its hurt. They stood there for a long time, before Dad finally stepped back.

“No school today,” Dad said, brow wrinkled with worry, eyes spouting fresh tears. Sleepy-head looked down, happy. School was the only thing tying it here, and without school, it could go back to the real world. It ran upstairs to change, setting its alarm and climbing back into bed, before Dad could begin to wonder where it had gone.

 “What’s wrong, Sleepy-head?” It took it a while to realise it was still crying, the pain there but distant. “Why do you make me go there?” it asked angrily. “You have to,” the voice said simply. “Why? Why can’t I stay with you? I’m happy here!”

“You have to go back. It’s important,” the voice soothed. “Now, forget Sleepy-head. Do what you come here to do and forget.”

It breathed in deeply as ghostly fingers stroked its head, tracing figure eights on its forehead to calm it. The pain was chased away by the tenderness, but remained, lurking around a distant corner. And Sleepy-head was afraid to go back.

“Shh, darling. You’re here now.”

“But-”“Shh, settle.” It felt a hand grasp its own, pulling it forwards into a run, towards the edge of a cliff. But it wasn’t scared. It leapt into the air, and the ground rushed beneath it as it spread its arms and flew, across to the city of the clouds. It was almost there, when the alarm cut it, and it fell into sleep.  

“Do you want lunch?” Dad asked gently as Sleepy-head came downstairs. The alarm had been set wrong. It should be morning.

It shook its head, the knife forever buried in its chest suddenly twisting as it looked at a photo on the mantelpiece. It walked forward, seizing the frame and throwing it at the ground, crying as it shattered, shaking, scared and sad for reasons it didn’t know. The world was going around and it, it was as crazy as the people at school said.

“Sleepy-head!” The voice interrupted Dad’s startled outburst. That was the most animated it had been in over a month.

It turned to run back to bed, but Dad grabbed it from behind, murmuring into its hair.

“It’s OK kiddo, it’s OK. It’ll be OK.”

Sleepy-head succumbed to Dad’s grip, all the while feeling fingers playing with its fringe, though Dad’s hands were around its waist.

 

It walked upstairs slowly, the churning of its guts making it feel sick. It wasn’t coming back here.

“Set the alarm!” the voice pleaded, but Sleepy-head had already smashed it against the wall. The voice would understand once it got there. It would make the voice understand that it couldn’t come back.

The voice couldn’t be too angry though, for it fell asleep with fingers playing in its hair.

 “Why didn’t you listen to me?” The voice didn’t sound angry though, just sad.“I can’t go back there. I want to stay with you, forever.”

The voice was silent for a minute. “What shall we play, darling?”

Sleepy-head smiled, sitting on the lawn and staring at the distant city. “We’ll fly, once I’ve slept. I’m so tired.” It yawned. “No, darling, come play now. Please.” The voice drifted closer, as it lay down on the soft grass, staring up at the white sky. “But I’m tired, Mum,” it protested.

“You need to go back.”

“Don’t want to, please, don’t make me.”The voice sighed as it closed its eyes, drifting to sleep with fingers teasing its hair. A dreamless sleep.


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