The Amazing Sleepless Boy by Lynn Mundell

You can find him at the end of the superstore toy aisle, The Amazing Sleepless Boy, because no one else will have him. In his cell-like paper box, he paces, smoking and staring moodily through the golden cellophane window. Tonight, he gives me the finger and I give it back. I knew him Before—when he loved sunshine, laughed appropriately, bear-hugged. Then came After—his sleeplessness moving from a rough patch to a pattern to an aberration, like the moon changes from an entire pie to a sliver. Nothing could cure it. Not warm milk and certainly not drugs. Not turning counter-clockwise three times under a hospital bedsheet at dawn while chewing basil leaves. Illness on this scale robs you of everything you have, then empties your pockets, and takes your pants. If only it would knock you out cold. He did his best with the empty nights—golfing alone, the balls like comets reversing into the sky. Drawing and erasing his own face with eyeliner in the bathroom mirror. But still he had too much time, revisiting old grudges until he lost everyone. Only his old mother stayed, sewing lavender dream pillows in the box’s corner, seated on a pink patio chair. When our eyes meet now, a tear traces her wrinkly cheek until I realize she is not Mother, but The Amazing Sleepless Boy, unkempt and prematurely aged. We fake-yawn together. In the cellophane’s reflection, he wipes my cheek, and, for a blessed moment, I close his eyes.




Lynn Mundell is co-founder of 100 Word Story. Her work has appeared in many literary journals, including Booth, Portland Review, and Five Points, with more forthcoming in Thread and Permafrost.



(Front page image via)

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