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30 10 2007

“I’m chasing sleep,” I told her, when she grabbed my wrist in her too-cold fingers and tried to hold me back. She pulled harder but I twisted free. It didn’t take more than an instant to choose which way to go. If I’d hesitated she would have caught me again. So I threw my body around, my dress catching between my knees, and took off down the street.

 My bare feet slapped the pavement with an uneven smacking noise. I hadn’t noticed till then that the pavement was wet.

Wet ground means rain. Sure enough when I turned my face upwards for an instant, my eyelids caught the falling drops.

I was wet. I hate being wet, I thought. My hair started sticking to my face. Long tendrils grew longer with moisture and turned into thin serpents on my face. I wonder if they will start hissing soon?

I heard them then, not snakes but well-shod feet slapping the pavement behind me. I shook my head to clear the noise and ran faster.

The trees were up ahead. Dark branches silhouetted against flaming clouds. Shouldn’t be so bright. Not with the rain and all. Faster! Run faster!The ticking of a clock, now. Pan’s alligator? Or was it a crocodile? Neither. Just a grandfather clock propped sideways against one of the trees. Running out of time. No time.

Amongst the trees then. All the underbrush had been cleared away, which made running faster. I knew where I was going now. At first it had been arbitrary, but the shoes behind me, chasing, still chasing! finally decided me.

Only a little farther now.

“Whhhoooo?”

I jumped sideways, scraping knuckles and cheek against two inconvenient branches. Just an owl, idiot. The little bird stared at me, unblinking as I untangled my serpent-hair from the branches.

“I’m chasing sleep!” I told him, turning to continue my flight.

“Whhoooo?”

“SLEEP!” I cried, over my shoulder. No time to explain. Have to get there first.I pulled out my pocket watch, wrestling the too-big cover open without slowing my pace. The hands were missing though, and only a dull ticking remained. Running out of time.

I found the path then. The footsteps slowed and died away behind me.

My feet were dirty, but they knew the way. I ran harder and harder, ragged gasps wrenched out of me with each step. My lungs match the clouds. All afire.

Through a stream, scaring the porpoise. He screeched back at me, clicking and shrieking through the trees.

Still no footsteps. Where’d they go? Just here… must’ve lost them. Faster!

Almost there.

Slapping feet in silence.

With a crash my body broke into the clearing. My head jerked backwards in surprise, the forwards in disbelief.

There’s not supposed to be anyone here. Who is it?

In the flaming light of a dying day I saw a man. A very well dressed man. Shiny shoes.Standing calmly in the clearing, fiddling with something in his hands, he smiled at me.

Unable to move I watched as walked towards me, body angled slightly away. He doesn’t want to scare me….

Reaching out one strong, clean hand, he took my watch from my numb fingers. He opened it in one hand and held out the other hand to show me what he’d been playing with.

My watch hands!

Carefully, he reattached the hands and handed the watch back to me.

“Don’t you know me?” He asked, in a husky voice.

Why its…it’s….!

“Yes. I am he, and I’ve been chasing you.” He smiled once more, looking deep into my eyes.

And I ran to him and leapt into his arms. The arms of Sleep.  

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One response

30 10 2007
Jennifer James

Nice! Begs to be illustrated though….I like it alot.

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