I turned to scouting the various rooms, halls and corners of the school for an undisturbed place, and soon even acquired a pretty good mental timetable of which classrooms would be free at which times. However I found the sleep-accommodating qualities of the class-seats undesirable, and the passings of teachers happened on occasion enough to leave you feeling edgy as you tried to drift off. My search continued and lead me to the 2nd floor balcony of our grand theatre. I walked beyond the seats, and passed through a curtain into the technical area which bordered the stage below. It was dark there, you could barely see a thing. In the corner I noticed a heap of curtain materials and the mound was soft and thick. I jumped forth and dissolved into it, into its softness, into its darkness, into its peace. I knew what I found instantly; this was perfection, this was all I’d ever been looking for. Nobody ever came by, and I’d hypothesised that even if someone did, that even if someone stood only inches away, they would still not be able to detect the dark cloth’s new solute.
During morning classes I dreamed of those curtains, and in those curtains I went on to dream of anything else. They were my dark robed saviour, the warm hug that held me in the winter while I drifted off to rehearsed stories from the floor below. The tranquility of being so free and comfortable was amplified by the knowledge that a thousand pairs of student feet scrambled about their duties in every direction around me. One didn’t need to be in my tired situation to appreciate such a place; just take a gander into any classroom and the many faces smothered in folded arms laid flat across their desks, I would’ve been the envy of all them had they known.
I mentioned a hypothesis regarding the impossibility of seeing me in that corner, and I can tell you now that it held true. However I will also tell you now that I was nonetheless ultimately discovered. The less attentive of you ask ‘well then how could you be?’ while the more astute scoffingly gloat ‘I know Sam, the snoring… the person inches away heard the snoring of course’. Well you’re both wrong, so one group quit your premature gloating, and the other stop being so stupid and pay more attention because the conclusion of first group was the one I’d been coaxing you towards. For the snoring was heard, but not from a few inches away, and not by one person. A play in mid-rehearsal was called to a stop due to a loud, interrupting and mysterious noise that had begun to dominate the stage. Sent to investigate, a girl called Lucy shuffled around a theatre’s 2nd floor balcony. I was right when I said you couldn’t even see me from an inch away; standing next to my corner of curtains, certain the noise must be coming from nowhere else, she dropped to her hands and knees and started rummaging through the cloth until her hand met deeply breathing flesh. The contact awoke me, ‘Sam?’ she said. Huh?. ‘What the hell are you doing here?’.
What the hell was I doing there… In a pile of curtains heaped up in the corner of the 2nd floor balcony of the theatre, what a ridiculous question; it was everywhere else that didn’t make any sense. To me it was obvious. It’s only now recounting the tale that I’ve even bothered to think about her perspective, that indeed for her, it must’ve truly been quite the strange surprise. I can’t remember what happened next, except I know I got up and left. I can’t remember if it was much mentioned again by anyone, though Lucy was a nice girl, I’m sure we must’ve joked about it sometime. The memories of such repercussions aren’t there because they weren’t so important to me, because there was only one consequence that mattered, the sad fact I had to accept; I wouldn’t return to the curtains again.
I imagine there are thousands of students across the world who lament their fate every morning when they are dragged out from their warm beds. I imagine that every morning their mind at one point cycles through possibilities as to how they could get back into that bed, but quickly somewhere they lose hope and run out of ideas, resigned to defeat. It was not that I was more hopeful or indeed perhaps even more resourceful in ideas that rendered me so much more successful than these thousands, but instead necessity. For me staying awake was simply not an option I was willing to consider, and a winning track record had told me I would be able to get back to sleep soon enough, one way or another. And one day staring out at a half depleted 2m long bean bag, one way (or another) was presented, and one of my mother’s favourite stories about me was born.
My mother and the school were well onto me by this point, the bunking was not going unnoticed, and calls to the house were definitely not infrequent. It was going to take something special to circumnavigate these difficult times of skeptic supervision. The beanbag was wedged between and against the sides of the safety railings of a top bunk of my bed. The railing reached relatively high from the base of the top bunk, at least the height of a human lying on his side, and the depleted nature of the beanbag meant that lying in it would make a hole where the pressure was applied, forcing it’s edges even higher. It helped as well that the bunk bed was pretty high anyway, and lying in the bag’s hole I calculated that no-one would be able to see me standing from the floor of the room. It would do.
Though that was all the easy part. The larger problem lay in getting there. My mum was making sure I left home on time every morning, and re-entering the house to climb up the stairs past my mother’s room and office was not an option due to a notoriously creaky staircase, one that as you can imagine plagued us children’s teenaged existence; coming home unnoticed was impossible. Additionally her ears had been pre-alerted to the idea that I may try something. Enter upper-floor bathroom window. Literally.
Leaving the house I would come back in through the side alley. Through a small window I would check to see that my mum and her first client of the day had left the ground-floor kitchen, necessary because I would have to walk past it, and also because on my way up to the bathroom I would have to track across its glass, thus transparent roof. In doing that the second problem presented itself; the ceiling was overlooked by the window of my mum’s office, where her removal from the kitchen guaranteed her presence there. I had to pick the moment of traversing with precision, and execute with speed and commitment. Once successfully traversed, it was the quick jump up and reach to the bathroom windowsill. After entering the bathroom I would have to listen to the downstairs study carefully; I was half way between her and my room, about 10 creaky stairs from victory. Once a moment of commotion was noted from the room below, I’d take the opportunity to ascend as silently as possible and plonk myself into the hidden safety of the beanbag. Success.
I’ve given reasons for being tired. I’ve even given reasons as to why sleep would be preferred to putting up with the day. Though I suppose in reading about a plan like that presented above, one has to wonder if all these reasons should ever be enough to warrant its actual execution on a semi-daily basis. And I suppose myself that, reading now, what just seemed quite normal and logical to me at the time, actually could be quite odd. So in finality I suppose that we should probably remember that, no matter whatever reasons, rationalising and motives I provide here, it might be easier to just attribute my actions to a simpler underlying cause that others found; that I was just quite a strange boy sometimes. Though personally I remain un-inclined to applying such a verdict. I’m solely offering you choices.
To be continued.