The Writing Disorder


New Fiction


by John Staley

      I have in my possession a watch that tells me when the entire world is weary. When it clicks a certain way, I know to whisper to it. I whisper sleep, I whisper rest, and for a day, all the living sleep.
      I walk about the still streets. I go into houses and I sit at tables. I read newspapers and I watch children snooze. I get between couples on couches and offer my own warmth to the two. I sit in front of the lonely and depressed and I smile and talk to them and touch their hands. I fog up windows, I leave presents, I take teeth out from under kids’ pillows (don’t worry, I pay for them) and, most importantly of all, I skip.
      I skip everywhere I go. I find it enjoyable to run and jump at the same time. I don’t feel silly or juvenile when the world can’t see me. In fact I do lots of things when the world is sleeping. I try on clothes, I dance in apartments, and I even laugh at funerals (I don’t mind the silence afterwards; it is always quiet when the world is sleeping).
      There is not a single noise when the world is sleeping. The dead quiet can sometimes be unnerving. Sometimes I wish I had someone to share the quiet with. I have even gone so far as to hold a man’s hand while whispering to the clock. The hand was dead asleep.
      I sat at a birthday party once. The world had rested twenty-three hours and soon it would wake. I sat next to the birthday girl. Her face was in the cake, which the family will hopefully mistake for childlike enthusiasm towards cake. The world woke up, and no one noticed me. Well, they saw I was there, but they just gave me a plate and some smooshed cake. I thanked them; they smiled.
      Recently I have taken to spending the world’s resting time in a bakery near my house. The good thing about a resting world is that nothing ever fades while it is doing so. In fact, everything grows more brilliant and the breads and pastries are the most fantastic thing to smell for an entire day.
      It was in this bakery that I had decided to spend this rest day when something quite unusual happened: a man walked by the store.
      He walked, while people around him slept standing up, and he ignored them. I rushed to the door and peered out. He had stopped at a bus stop. How positively strange that an awake person in a resting world would use his time to wait for a bus.
      I watched him for a good ten minutes and yet he did not move. He appeared quite determined to get on that bus, but why on earth would he want to do that? I stepped out of the bakery and I stood beside him.
      Perhaps this man shared my ability, perhaps he had found that being different no longer suited him and he just wanted to go about his life in a normal way and was determined that a resting world wasn’t going to ruin that. I smiled at the thought. Maybe I could do the same; maybe I didn’t have to be different for once.
      So I, like my new friend, waited for the bus. I admired his patience; he wasn’t even tapping his foot or checking his watch. I, however, contained no such patience, and so to save myself from boredom, I thought of reasons why I was waiting for the bus.
      Maybe I was going to work, or perhaps I’m on my way home to cook dinner for the kids. Where is this guy going I wonder? Judging from his attire he’s probably going to work. A suit that nice must be worn by the rich. He could be going to a fancy party. Maybe he’ll take me.
      That would be so lovely; to be taken to a party while the world sleeps. Why, I wonder, does he continue to wait for the bus?
      I had a sudden urge to hold his hand, and I did. The clammy flesh felt all too familiar. I couldn’t quite exactly form a thought around the memory but something was perturbing my thoughts.
      With a frown I remembered exactly what this felt like. I was squeezing his hand. He wasn’t squeezing back. I let go of his hand and gave him a shove. I left him snoozing on the sidewalk.
      I hate sleepwalkers.

John Staley was born in Durham, NC. He is currently a high school senior and has aspirations of becoming a full-time writer.

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