Story

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By Jennifer Wai-Lan Strodl

An unmade bed. Clump of pillows. How can one man use so many pillows? I dig into the pile and unbury mine. Old weathered thing. Unburdened of its once downy filling. Possibly one of the pillows I snagged from my childhood home when my mother sold our house in Canada. So, faithful sleeping companion, hold my head as I rest from Toronto to Vancouver to Mexico, Harlem, Rhinecliff, Hudson, and here. Pathetic that I don’t to buy myself new pillows. The futon was a wedding gift. The bed frame, a Christmas gift. The duvet, a birthday present. Yet no gifting opportunity for a new pillow. It’s time. Straighten the sheets. Get under the covers. I’ve put on my nightgown tonight. A luxury. Eyes closed. To do list running nonstop through the circuitry of my brain. Hush. Sleep, baby, sleep. No noise but the wind. Window open. Peace. Bedside lamp on. I reach for the book of short stories beside my bed. Read. I’m leaving my thoughts to talk to themselves. Thank you Western world for showing me this habit. I remember glimpsing my friend’s mother at a sleepover once reading before bed. A strange routine. Unheard of in my Chinese home. But interesting. Intriguing. Something to try one day. It helps. I sleep.