Good Night, Sleep Tight
It’s 3:04 in the morning, and I’m awake. I bet you my best friend Kirk is sleeping right now, curled up in his Zen bed with his Gruslen snoozing away peacefully by his side. I bet Princess Amira of Sakhmet is dozing away luxuriously in her canopy bed with silk sheets. Even Dr. Sloth is sleeping right now, dreaming about world domination.
I blame my parents. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be in this mess. They just had to adopt Natasya. Am I not satisfying enough for them? Apparently not. If Natasya had never been born, life would 100% better.
How? Well, for one thing, I’d be asleep right now.
“Ronnie, you’re getting syrup all over your elbow!”
I jolt upward, knocking over my fork in the process.
Dad makes a “tsk” noise with his tongue and shakes his head. I roll my eyes. Mom was correct; my elbow feels all gooey now, like Natasya’s spit.
I attempt to lick it off (the syrup, I mean, not Natasya’s spit), then remember the “it’s impossible to lick your elbow” fact, and resort to using a napkin.
“Ronnie, dear, it’s impolite to sleep at the breakfast table,” Mom coos, trying to sweeten her words of warning.
Again, I roll my eyes. It's 7:13 in the morning, and I can barely keep my eyes open. How are they so awake? I wonder. Maybe it’s because of the coffee they are both sipping casually. Aren’t they exhausted? With all that racket last night, I’m surprised they got any sleep.
Right on cue, a squeal erupts from another room. I groan, and Mom leaps out of her chair, her bushy Xweetok tail swatting Dad in the face, and rushes out of the room.
Dad re-adjusts his glasses and frowns at me, before taking a long sip from his mug and resuming his skimming of The Neopian Times.
Mom slowly returns to the room, rocking Natasya gently in her arms.
I glare at Natasya. I know, I know, she’s only a baby, but she’s a menace, I tell you! Do you know how many restless nights I’ve suffered through this week?
The baby Aisha giggles and twitches her little Aisha ears. Even though my eyelids are barely open, I still notice, and must admit, she’s adorable.
But being adorable has nothing to do with being quiet, unfortunately.
She’s crying. Again. Did I cry this much when I was a baby?
A few minutes pass, and even though I hear Mom speaking to her softly in the next room, the wailing doesn’t cease. I sigh and slide out of bed, snatching a pen and a slightly crumpled piece of paper off of the desk in my bedroom. It’s 1:22 in the morning, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Help! You-know-who is screaming like crazy, and I can’t take another minute of this! Sorry if this neomail wakes you up. Tell Zach I’m sorry. I know how grouchy he gets.
I quickly seal and send the neomail off, praying Zach, Kirk’s Gruslen, won’t claw me the next time I see him.
I sit on my bed and place my aching head into my paws, my fingers running through my brown mane. A “whoosh” sound startles me, and I immediately relax when I see a neomail hovering above my head.
Yeah, Zach’s mad. Anyway, when my brother Joey was a baby, I used to play with him until he got so tired; he collapsed to the floor with exhaustion. Just play ball with her or something – she’ll get over it, trust me.
P.S. – You owe me new curtains. Zach didn’t take waking up early too well.
I sighed. Kirk has always been my best friend – we met several years ago at Neoschool because we were the only two Kyrii in class, and everyone else was making fun of our manes. They were probably just jealous. Still, Kirk isn’t the best with advice. Natasya’s only about a week old... she can’t play ball!
Still, the sobbing is making my head throb. I place Kirk’s neomail on my bed and slip into the nursery.
Mom has the baby Aisha on her hip. She’s bobbing up and down, like the boat I took to Mystery Island last summer, as if this will make Natasya shut up.
“Ronnie, go back to sleep. Please.”
I extend my arms, and Mom gapes at me for a second, before gently handing me Natasya and hurrying into her bedroom, probably relieved to have someone else hold the little burden.
“Okay, Natasya,” I whisper, despite her shrieks, “we’re going to play a game!”
Tears spill down her cheeks, and I sigh, placing her gently on the soft carpet. Her bottom lip quivers violently.
I root around in her toy box for a moment, until I locate a squishy red ball. I gently roll it to her, and she screams at the top of her lungs.
Dad rushes into the room, angrily, his eyes swollen and red.
“Ronald, keep it down!” he mutters viciously, his Chomby tail lashing back and forth.
“This isn’t MY fault!” I holler, and Natasya’s cries grow even louder.
Mom rushes into the room and shoos us out, sighing with disappointment. I retreat to my room and crawl into bed. Obviously, the whole “play with her” plan failed. Epically.
When will this nightmare end?
I’m standing in front of my locker at Neoschool, next to Kirk and my other friend Thornton, a lanky, split Lenny. He’s a little odd, but he is the only one who doesn’t call me and Kirk “more vain that a Uni”.
“So what’re you going to do?” Kirk asks me.
I sigh and close my locker door shut. I respond, “No clue.”
We are silent for a minute. Thornton has a far-away look in his big black eyes.
“Have you tried hypnotism?” he asks abruptly, snapping his attention back to me.
I stare at him for a minute, perplexed. I know Thornton likes yoga and meditation and stuff, but hypnotism?
As if echoing my thoughts, Kirk snickers, “Hypnotism? Are you crazy, Thornton?”
The Lenny glances at Kirk, and then draws his eyes back to me.
“No, I’m not crazy. When my owner was trying to potty-train me, she used swirly, colorful lights and patterns while chanting in my ear to teach me.”
No one says anything for another moment, and then Kirk bursts out laughing. I join him.
“I’m serious,” Thornton replies calmly, his gaze unwavering.
“You really think that’ll work?” I ask skeptically.
“You’re desperate, right? It’s worth a shot.”
I shrug, and the bell rings. Neopets scatter down the hallways to class. Hypnotism, huh?
It’s 12:49 in the morning, and Natasya and I are sitting on the floor of my bedroom. My music sheets are scattered around us. I had a guitar lesson today, and I forgot to clean up.
The baby Aisha is whimpering pathetically. The nursery is in between Mom and Dad’s room and my room, so even though in both rooms we can hear Natasya’s incessant crying, I can’t hear Mom and Dad and they can’t hear me.
I find this suitable, as I don’t want them to know I’m about to hypnotize their daughter.
I switch on some lava lamps; turn on the strobe lights that flash yellow, blue, and pink lights across the room, and dangle a watch in front of Natasya’s face, waving it back and forth like a pendulum.
“You are getting sleeeeepy...” I chant, mimicking the Island Mystic when he tried to hypnotize my cousin Kyra into believing his fortunes.
The Aisha stares blankly at the watch, tears hovering in her tear ducts.
“You are tired, very tired,” I continue, attempting to make my voice sound soothing like Thornton advised, “You are sick of crying... you are full, happy, and ready for bed...”
It’s working! I think to myself.
Natasya must be a mind reader, because immediately after the thought crosses my mind, a screech tumbles out of her throat and soon she’s bawling loud enough for Kreludor to hear.
She must be louder than I thought, because I hear footsteps pounding in the hallway, and Dad bursts into my room angrily. His expression flashes to shock as soon as he takes in the scene before him.
“What in the name of Fyora –”
Mom is right behind him. She gasps and grabs Natasya off the floor, stroking her head as the baby screams.
“Remember that talk we had about being a responsible brother?” Dad bellows. “You obviously weren’t listening!”
He slams my door shut. I know it’s just the exhaustion that’s making him act even more stern than usual, but still. Ouch.
Sighing, I turn off the lights and lava lamps. Natasya is still squealing.
I swear the sound of crying has become engrained in my mind.
I need a solution. Now.
It’s Friday, at around 4:00 in the afternoon. Every Friday for the past few years, Kirk and I go exploring around Neopia, as a de-stressor after a long week of homework and tests.
After stopping briefly in Faerieland so the faeries at the Healing Springs could cure my interminable headache, Kirk and I headed to Moltara.
Sweat is trickling down my cheek. Pools of lava are bubbling around us, and the sounds of machinery and hammers pounding away on metal hum in my eardrums.
“Hey, Ron, let’s check out the Petpetorium,” Kirk suggests, and Zach growls next to him. Kirk rolls his eyes and adds, “No, Zach, I’m not replacing you.”
I grin and respond, “You go ahead. I’ll be there in a second.”
Kirk nods and disappears into the Petpetorium with Zach. I wait until I can’t see his figure in the doorway anymore, and then swiftly duck into Igneot’s Cavern.
I’ll only be a minute, and I don’t want Kirk thinking I actually believe in all that rubbish Thornton does. Besides, I’m desperate.
The magma Gnorbu looks up at me expectantly as I enter his cave. He smiles peacefully and beckons for me to take a seat across from him at his table. What appears to be a magma crystal ball hovers next to him.
“Welcome, young citizen. I see you have a question for Igneot. What is it, may I ask?”
I force a smile, and briefly explain my predicament.
He strokes his chin for a moment, then gazes at his ball of fire / crystal ball made of magma.
“Hmm... the answer appears... unclear.”
I stare at him, dumbfounded. I traveled here all the way from Neopia Central and this is the advice he offers me?
“What is that sticking out of your pocket, young lad?” he asks, gesturing toward me.
I reach into my pocket and pull out a crumpled sheet of music from my guitar lesson the other day.
“Oh, just some music,” I shrug slightly.
“That is your answer,” Igneot utters, and his magma ball’s flames grow brighter.
Before I can retort, a Magma Lupe hurries in, practically knocking me out of my chair, so I leave abruptly.
I’m still confused about what the Gnorbu advised me, even as I enter the Petpetorium and find Kirk and Zach.
What did he mean by, “That is your answer”?
And suddenly, as we are leaving the shop, it all becomes clear to me.
My fingers strum the guitar strings and I hum along to the melody, losing myself in the quiet chorus and relaxing cadence of the song.
It’s 9:17 at night, and Natasya is sitting before me, silent.
Soon, after a few more verses, she is gently nodding off. I finish the song with a final strum, then gingerly lift her off the floor and place her in her crib.
Again, she looks adorable, and trust me, she is ten times cuter when she isn’t screaming at the top of her lungs.
I turn to go to my bedroom, only to see my parents standing in the doorway, smiling.
Mom kisses me gently on the cheek, and Dad whispers, “Good job, son.”
I smile and climb back into bed, close my eyes, and for the first time in a week and a half, I sleep.