It’s too freaking quiet here!
I can’t sleep. Not a wink.
This is the third night in a row this has happened. Ever since we moved from my beloved twenty-two-hundred-square-foot high-rise condo on the Gold Coast of Chicago to this creaky old Victorian house here in Radisson, Georgia—i.e. out where God lost his shoes—I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep.
A teenager like me needs the proper amount of rest or else her growth will be stunted. It’s bad enough I’m not blessed in the boobage department, like my thirteen-year-old sister, Kaitlin. Aren’t older sisters supposed to develop faster? Now this whole insomnia prob. Oh, like dark circles under my eyes are going to make me even more popular when I start my new school tomorrow.
I roll onto my side and hang off the bed, peering over at the North American Van Lines cardboard box marked “Moorehead—Kendall’s Bedroom.” I wonder if there’s any Tylenol PM in there from when I couldn’t sleep last summer because I was working part-time at Intelligentsia Coffee on North Broadway and had a caffeine contact high. Hmm, probably not. I shouldn’t take that anyway, especially since I turned down Mom’s offer of a sleeping pill sample she got from the pharm rep—she’s a nurse—that she occasionally takes. Course, my sleep disorder isn’t related to hot flashes, like hers is. Mine’s because of this freaking silence!
I mean, living in downtown Chicago since my birth, I got used to the noise of a city: The cacophony of cars, taxis, and delivery trucks. The hustle and bustle of tourists and townies alike trekking around the Windy City. The El with its metallic symphony along the rails. The planes from O’Hare and Midway coasting through the sky, like you could reach up, grab them, and hang on. To me, it’s a harmonious concerto of urban life. Not this unbelievably earsplitting silence of Main Street in Radisson, Georgia.
I’m seriously not kidding about this deafening quiet. I’m almost on a first- name basis with the crickets and chirping cicadas that live in our backyard. I have to crack the window to let air in—I have a ceiling fan, but it’s not helping with the night warmth—and the outdoor insects serenade me with their nightly opera while I lay here staring up at the crown molding on my bedroom ceiling. As my Grandma Ethel used to say, “It’s so quiet you can hear the dead thinking.” Yeah, like that’s what I want.
What I want is to see the inside of my eyelids and some colorful, vivid dreams of the Justin Timberlake or Channing Tatum variety. That’s what I’m talking about.
Flipping to the middle of the bed, I wipe the back of my hand across my forehead, mopping up the sweat from the September heat. At home in Chicago, I’d have my favorite Patagonia Synchilla blanket between the sheet and comforter to keep me warm. I hardly think I’ll need it anytime soon here in Radisson. Which just ain’t right. Nothing’s right. Not anymore.
I don’t want be to an angst-ridden, sulky sixteen-year-old, but this relocation will take some adjustment. Honestly, I haven’t felt like myself since I moved into this house and started unpacking my things. I’ve had a killer headache for the past three days (behind my right eye), and no amount of ibuprofen can battle it. Maybe the pain’s purely psychosomatic due to the whole moving away from everyone and everything I’ve known my entire life to a town no bigger than the Lincoln Park section of Chicago.
I roll around underneath the covers and rub my fists into my eye sockets to try and dig at the source of the headache. If I can just go to sleep, I’ll be okay. A deep, deep sigh escapes my chest, blending into the whir of the ceiling fan. At first, I thought this not-so-Kendall feeling was allergies or something like dust mites from this musty hundred-year-old house. But I’m not sneezing or anything obvious like that. The symptoms border on weirdness more than anything else.
Like yesterday . . . I was hanging my whatnot shelf (you know, for all those trinkets your grandparents give you over the years from their travels) and my fingers got all tingly to the point where I couldn’t hold the hammer anymore. Not like “oh shit, I’m having a heart attack” tingly. More like when your arm falls asleep and it feels like there are ten thousand ants marching underneath your skin. Yeah, like that.
Then, when I was helping Mom set up the picnic table and hammock in the backyard, I literally burst into tears like I do whenever I watch The Notebook. Except I had no reason to cry. None. Whatsoever. Mom thought it was because I was depressed about being away from Chicago, which probably had a little to do with it, but it really made no sense. I told her I was PMSing so she wouldn’t worry or try to cram somme drug samples from her stash into me. The “that time of the month” answer seemed to satisfy her.
The most bizarre thing so far, besides gearrrrring up to be a somnambulist (What? I listen to DJ Brian Transeau’s music . . . he rocks!), happened when I was playing solitaire on my bed last night. I’m not talking computer Klondike, but honest-to-goodness playing cards—how old-fashioned of me!— because the cable and Internet connection isn’t hooked up yet in the house. How does anyone expect me to exist and contact the outside world if I don’t have my Comcast?
So, while I’m playing solitaire and shuffling the deck, the queen of hearts— that tarty wench—kept flying out. No matter how I shuffled or laid out the cards, that stupid woman with the bags under her eyes and the pissed-off look on her face found her way out of the deck. It was like the card had a mind of its own, and it massively creeped me out. As soon as the computer’s connected, I’m totally Googling that damn card to see what that’s all about. I’d heard from my friend Marjorie, back home—yes, Chicago is still home— that some people do tarot-like readings with ordinary playing cards. Not that I’m into that stuff or anything. Maybe I’ll find a book on it and get an explanation. Or maybe I’ll just go insane first.
Another deep groan from me as the wind catches the ivory-colored curtain next to my bed. The sheer linen drapery does a bit of a pole dance around one of the four bedposts. It’s only nine thirty, but I thought if I went to bed earlier tonight—in anticipation of my first day of school tomorrow—I might fall asleep faster. No. Such. Luck.
My bedroom door opens with a squeak.
“Kendall? Are you awake, sweetie?” “Of course,” I say bitterly and kick off the thin comforter and sheet. “Sorry,” I add.
“That’s okay. I understand.” Mom pushes into my room and snaps on the light. She’s taken to wearing her shoulder-length brown hair up in a messy bun, making her look less than her forty-eight years. I sit up, squint, and see that she’s carrying a large box. “Your dad just got back from Mega-Mart—” I interrupt her with a harrumph. “They actually have a Mega-Mart here?” Go figure. ...