I decided to splurge a little and bought a couple of used books on Sunday, some nice, girly fiction. “The Collected Stories of Colette” and “The Shoplifter’s Apprentice,” stories by Ellen Lesser. They called to me from the shelves, so I took them home. Oh, how I’ve missed my long baths with good fiction! Why do I treat fiction like an indulgence? Why do I feel that each moment should be spend doing something “useful”? Stories and characters are as necessary as sleep, sometimes more so.
From the time I was 4 until I moved out at 16, I shared a room with my cousin whom we adopted and called my sister. To put it simply, she hated me. I got little consideration and no privacy except during my baths and while my sister was sleeping. I guess my reading was literally escapism – escape into sweet solitude. That is how I learned to love the stillness late at night when you are the only one awake in the house; when even the cars have stopped driving by on the road, leading you to believe the whole world is sleeping. It’s even better than in the early morning, with the implicit pressure of the coming day nagging at the back of your mind with everything you should be doing. In the darkness of deep night, the only thing you should be doing is sleeping… and you’re not.
It always feels a little naughty to me, staying up like that, like enjoying stolen time. It’s not really stolen, of course, because you pay for the lack of sleep the next day. But it’s so worth it. Tonight is a good night to stay up. Tonight there is a brooding in my chest – the good kind of brooding, like a hen on a cozy clutch of eggs; or like a seed that has sprouted and is about to stretch it’s little stem through the surface of the soil and spread its tightly folded leaves. Yes, I think I can feel the night flowers blooming.