My husband and I lie back-to-back on the hotel bed, neither moving in case the other is finally on the cusp of sleep. No talking, no fidgeting. Those are the rules.
Like most motels, a blaring yellow light floods the concrete walkway outside our door. It spills around the edges of the thick curtains and leaks into the room. I use it to gaze around my temporary habitat – cheap furniture, no clock, bags half-opened to let clothing spill out, a table with one chair, the ubiquitous luggage rack we’ve never used in any hotel.
Over there, inches away, lies another person, in his own world of thoughts. And, as per the unspoken rules, I cannot move or speak to bridge that gap, in case he has tumbled into sleep. Are his thoughts along the same theme as mine? I hate trying to sleep in hotel rooms.
When you’re married, you share everything eventually–even insomnia.
Against my will, paragraphs begin to shape themselves in my mind. I grope for my spiral notebook and a pencil and write them down, my script spiky and angled, overlapping in the dark. When I give up on sleep I slip from bed and fumble for my clothes in the grey darkness. I dress, barely breathing, thankful for the carpet swallowing the sound of my steps. My husband, whose occasional shifts and sighs betrayed his wakefulness throughout the night, doesn’t stir now, and I hope that he, at last, is asleep and dreaming, as I am unable to do.
I run my fingers through my hair and let myself out of the room, padding down the hallway toward the lobby and its free internet access. Around me, the smell of coffee brewing, and on TV a news anchor grimly analyzing the stock market. The cheerful desk clerk nods at me, then goes back to his morning paper. I scan the continental breakfast offering: Danishes, two kinds of muffins, and Tang – carbs and chemicals. Outside, flower petals chase each other on the breeze. Cars shoosh past.
Stifling a yawn, I feed the results of my notebook ramblings into the computer and publish them. Perhaps nearly everything is worth it if it gives you something to write about.