Don’t waste your life away with sleep.

cat-in-park

I MET THE WORLD at my usual time this morning.

It was four-thirty.

But daylight was on the way.

My mind had cobwebs.

I wanted another hour of sleep.

Maybe two.

I stumbled through the darkness and out to the computer, turned it on, and waited for the Muse to come wandering out of the woodlands, down the hill, across the patio, and into the sunroom.

He had his own key.

He slept over sometimes.

This morning, the Muse was late. Didn’t come around until mid-morning,

The sun was already up.

That made two of us.

“Where you been?” I asked when he finally shuffled his way into the house.

“Had trouble waking up,” he said.

I knew the feeling.

“Maybe I shouldn’t get up so early,” I said.

“You should never let the day start without you,” he said.

“I need some sleep.”

“Waste of time.”

“Why?”

The Muse sat down and listend to the thunder rumble like a bad bellyache in the distance.

“Sleep is way overrated,” he said.

“You overslept this morning.”

“That’s different,” he said.

“How’s that?”

“I’m a consultant.”

He shrugged.

“I don’t do a lot of work.” The Muse leaned back in an easy chair. The rain had followed the thunder to the world around us.

“Doctors say you need eight hours of sleep a day,” I said.

“Doctors haven’t done the math.”

I looked at him with a puzzled expression.

“Let’s say you get eight hours of sleep a night,” he continued. “And let’s say you live to be seventy-five years old.”

I nodded.

“Do you know what that means?” he asked.

I shook my head.

“It means you will have slept away twenty-five years of your life.”

I shuddered.

“You don’t have that much time to give them,” he said.

I didn’t.

“Tell me what you’ve done this morning?”

“I loaded up Caleb and Linda Pirtle for tomorrow,” I said.

“What does that mean?”

“I uploaded six blogs.”

He nodded.

“I put up four serial chapters.”

Same nod.

“I wrote my own blog.”

“All of this take very long?” he asked.

“About three hours.”

“Do anything else?” he wanted to know.

“I wrote the opening to my new novel,” I said.

“The one about football?”

“About the illegal recruiting of high school athletes.”

“It’s football,” he said.

“It is.”

“What’s it called?”

“Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever.”

“Read me what you wrote this morning.”

I did.

They gathered out beneath the old, rusty water tower on the north edge of town at six minutes past eight o’clock, shortly after the gray dusk of a December day faded into darkness.

There were seven of them, all high school seniors. One by one, they began climbing the shaky old metal ladder that would take them to the top of the tower.

Casey Clinton stopped on the twenty-third rung, his face already beaded with sweat even though the temperature had fallen sharply into the low thirties. A stiff wind was bending the spindly pines around him.

His legs were shaking, his knees weak, and his hands felt as though they were frozen to the ladder.

He held it in a death grip.

He could not move.

Damn.

At the moment, Casey Clinton did not know whether he had been seized by fear or shame.

Both were deadly.

And he felt like crying.

The Muse closed his eyes.

“That’s what I’m talking about,” he said.

“What’s that?”

“Do you know what you would have written if you had been sleeping.

I shrugged.

“Nothing,” he said. “It’s way overrated.”

“Sleep?” I asked.

“Football,” he said.

He lay back in the easy chair and slept.

I wrote.

It always happens that way.

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