Stay Awake

She blinks once. Twice. The third time it’s harder to will her eyelids into coming back up. She feels her head starting to droop but is powerless to stop it.

A nudge from her left jolts her senses out of slow-mo. “There’s only twenty more minutes,” her friend hissed at her, “Stay awake!”

Some things that seem like a good idea at the time are actually the opposite of that. At 4am the night before, when she had just finished her Statistics homework, she really thought she would be better off just staying up for three more hours until it was time to leave for her 8am class. She was taking a four hour bus ride immediately after – she could sleep then.

As her professor droned on about math she had learned in high school, she tried everything she could think of to keep herself awake. She played with her phone, she doodled in her notebook. But every once in a while her mind started to drift…


Her friend was finding this amusing. “You look like the living dead.”

“No part of what I’m feeling resembles living.”

Her friend smiled at her and she did the best she could to smile back. The fact that this took effort made her giggle a little. Then a little more. “What’s so funny?”

This prompted more giggles. “I have no idea.”

“Oh my God, you’re delirious.”

Finally, the professor made his closing statement and students around the two girls started shuffling around, getting their stuff together and leaving. The girl stood up and stretched before putting her backpack on. She teetered a little on the spot and her friend put a hand on her shoulder. “Are you going to be okay getting to the bus?”

“I sure hope so. I just won’t sit down ’til I’m on it.”

“Oh jeez. Will you please stay awake long enough to text me that you’re safely on board to the right city?”

The girl smiled at her concerned friend. “Sure, I’ll try.”

She waved goodbye and put her headphones into her ears, turning her music up as loud as she could bear and made her way to the bus. Somehow she made it there and once she was finally situated in her seat, she happily closed her eyes. Her body thanked her as her muscles relaxed and her breathing shallowed. Yet, her brain was whirring.

Her body begged and pulled at her brain to calm down, to shut off.  She was almost there. Less than conscious but not quite asleep.

She shifted to try to get more comfortable. She tried counting sheep, her breath, her heartbeat. She chose her most soothing playlist. She tried focusing on the words or the soothing tones.


Exhaustion overtook her body, but it could not defeat her mind.

So she sat. Eyes closed, brain on, for four hours.

Suddenly those three hours she had free last night seemed wasted.  The song on her iPod switched and she couldn’t help but open her eyes slightly to squint begrudgingly at it as it mocked her.

I’m so tired, but I can’t sleep

Some things that seem like a good idea at the time are actually the opposite of that.


~ by Valerie Anne on 09/21/2011.

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