by Siddiq Islam
(3am, Sunday, 5 February 2023)
Dear little Peter, he sleeps where he chooses. He picks out a spot that he likes, never loses, and that’s where he lies down, and that’s where he snoozes.
This evening, our dear little Peter, it seems, invites to his home but the girl of his dreams! They talk and make jokes while they drink and they dine. They squeeze on the couch and watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine. They huddle and cuddle and when it’s all done, decide they are sleepy. They’ve had enough fun.
Dear little Peter, he isn’t so rich as to have a whole guestroom to lend to his friend. He gives her his bed, soft and high, lots of headroom, and sets up a towel on the floor of his bedroom. ‘How generous of you. I’ve not met one sweeter! To give up your bed for me? Good night, dear Peter.’ ‘Good night’, blushes Peter from down on the floor, while hoping to dream of his dream girl some more …
So restless, so hapless, this chap without mattress, he silently squeals, and he squirms half the night. He wriggles and wrangles, and (even despite all her bedbug instructions) he cannot sleep tight. This towel’s not a mattress, and making it worse, the air-con is casting some icicle curse. He’s catching a cold now, his maths homework’s due, and that KFC meal box is making him –
Suddenly, shuddering, ground-shaking grumbles. Dear little Peter, on the towel whence he tumbles, is looking around for the source of these rumbles, but nothing around him looks wonky or sour. The clock on the wall strikes the twenty-fourth hour, and now he looks up at the full unleashed power of the girl, who’s turned into the Witch of the Winter! Her mouth opens wide and the air starts to splinter. The snores grow in volume, they avalanche and snowball and whiplash around him like blizzard-strength snowfall.
A scarf cannot block it, and earplugs won’t mute the harsh, warlike drones that emit from this brute. Poor Peter tries everything in his power to counter the girl in her ivory tower. He can’t do a thing but take cover and cower and hope to survive till the sun-rising hour. He starts on his maths homework since he can’t rest. Of all his ideas, this one seems like the best.
An hour or so and there’s not much to do. He’s finished his work and he’s been to the loo and he’s finally worked out that one cryptic clue for the crossword that left him for so long befuzzled. He no longer wants to be worked, pooped or puzzled. He contemplates asking, confronting the Witch, but to wake Sleeping Beauty is far from his wish.
Dear little Peter can bear it no more. He snaps up his notepad and heads for the door. The Witch has invaded and so he must flee and attempt to make home in a different country. All down the drive, he is thinking while bobbling what kind of new home he could work, sleep and hobble in, but the gates of his house are obstructed, it seems, by a long-green-haired, yellow-toothed, hob-nobbling goblin! The monster is smiling and holding the gate to let through his unlikely humanoid mate, but just when sweet Peter arrives, he screams, ‘Oops!’ and scuttles away in a fiendish hysteria. At such lack of kindness, our hero’s heart droops. Some people will never be good in this area.
Dear little Peter looks far, high and wide for some tranquil landing where he might reside, but park benches soak and dark alleyways scare. He almost falls asleep in a 24/7 library chair, but the thoughts of his duties, when he is just there, awaken him, and so he weeps out in despair, ‘Why is it that she gets to sleep easy up there!?’
He writes up a story about a small warrior, who battles sleep-envy, diarrhoea and insomnia and the sad little Goblin, and, tired and solemn, he eventually fills up his college’s newspaper column.