Five more sleeps


Steel-toed Timberlands made a distinct sound on the concrete floor – an ominous click amplified by the three-story open ceilings. At random intervals, the guard raked his club across cell bars, adding to the cacophony of jailhouse night noises.

After months of confinement, I became accustom to the endless discord. It was my heartbeat, my constant companion. When I thought of leaving, sometimes I wondered if I’d miss it.

My family lived beside the train tracks when I was a kid. The wail of the train’s whistle and the clatter of iron wheels became my lullaby. In college, away from home for the first time, I couldn’t sleep without that familiar song.

I stretched out as far as my cramped cot allowed. I didn’t like dropping my arms or legs over the edge of the bed. Since my incarceration, my childhood fear of monsters lurking beneath returned.

Weak shadows danced along the ceiling, flickering in the pale lamp light. I could barely make out the calendar on the opposite wall. Large X’s counted down the days until my time here ended.

I smiled remembering my last call from home. “Only five more sleeps mommy, just five more.” The blank squares shone like a beacon, the only bright points in my life.

The sudden quiet shook me out of my revery. The boots and club were eerily silent. Something was wrong. The boots never stopped.

A baleful rumbling rose from the bottom tier of cells. I could feel it through the floor. The calendar pages fluttered from the reverberations. A building crescendo of angry voices joined the fray.

Turning my cot on its side, I pulled the mattress over me, trying to build a shelter to hide from the evil that was coming. Just five more days, that was all I needed.

Then the lights went out.

The Trifecta challenge this week is: Companion [ noun \kəmˈpanyən\] 3a: one that is closely connected with something similar
Week 47: Inspired by “Then the lights went out.”
A stand-alone piece, this is also a continuation of “Losing Sleep,” done for 100 Word Song.

NaBloPoMo 19/20

23 thoughts on “Five more sleeps

  1. You’ve crafted such a foreboding here; it’s made all the more eerie with the small details like the wondering if she would miss the discord. I grew up almost across the sleep from a fire station. People would complain about it when they spent the night, but it was a part of my consciousness.


    1. Thank you Angela. I really did grow up across the street from a very busy train track. I missed it when we moved away. It was too quiet without those familiar sounds.


  2. So many wonderful word choices here. You really put me in the cell with the narrator, hearing the cacophony of noise, and then the suddenly and chilling silence. I’m intrigued by the childlike voice of the narrator, saying “mommy” and “five more sleeps”. It seems the narrator is educated (mention of college) and older, but why the childish speech – and why is s/he imprisoned? So many questions.


    1. The “five more sleeps” come from the narrator remembering her last call from home, and her child telling her how soon she is coming home. The link at the end is to another part of this story, and in that she’s dreaming of a birthday party for her four-year-old.


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