A Cathy and Janice Bedtime Story
By Joe Pegasus
Cathy could not fall asleep. She wandered down stairs to where the grown ups sat around, watched TV, and munched on after dinner snacks. Dad called her over to his lap while Mom complained to Dad and Uncle John about a problem with the dish washer. “It rattles the whole kitchen, it does! It thumps the floor and makes white misty dust fall from the basement ceiling all over my laundry down there.” But Cathy did not hear a word of it. She ignored the complaints of adults. She just got comfortable with her Dad,
“Can’t sleep, Cath?”
“No even a wink, Dad. Can I watch some TV with all of you?”
“Sure thing, kiddo.” And so they did until her parents thought it high-time she travel up to bed and into dreamland. So up stairs she went. No less tired from when she came down those stairs.
Cathy could not fall asleep. She paced her bedroom floor and took too many trips to get too many drinks of water. Little Janice slept for hours until Cathy’s getting up and down woke her up.
“What’s the trouble?” Janice asked.
Cathy told her little sister, “I cannot get to sleep.”
Janice rubbed her eyes. She felt very sleepy. “You have to lay in bed. Then the Sleepies will come to put you to sleep.”
Cathy shrugged and moaned, “The Sleepies will not come.”
Janice turned over to go back to sleep. “Lay down; they will find you,” she said. “They are like our cat Belgium who finds everything.”
Cathy thought about what her sister just said. That should be the answer to her finding sleep. Cathy needed to find the Sleepies. She asked, “Do you think it is possible to find the Sleepies?”
Janice turned back around. “You mean to look for them?”
“Yes,” Cathy replied. “They will not come to me. Perhaps I can find them.”
Janice gave it a little thought. It sounded like a good idea but, “I know what the Sleepies do from what adults have told me. They wrap themselves around you and make you tired so you go to sleep. I never remember anyone telling me what they look like. Do you know what they look like?”
“No. I always thought the Sleepies just meant that you get tired and need to sleep.” Cathy guessed. “Now that I need to find them, I need to know what they look like.”
Janice giggled and though her sister silly. “I do not think they look like anything, Cath. I am very sure they are just in your imagination.”
Cathy was not so sure. “I though Santa Claus was imaginary too. But then remember the night when we found his sleigh lights?” She reminded her little sister. “I use to think Humpty Dumpty was just a story. Until Uncle John said, ‘You can’t prove it either way because they could never put him back together again.’ Remember how awesome that was?”
Janice perked up, “Yes. And I remember when I laughed at you when you told me about the tooth fairy. Until I found a quarter under my pillow where my tooth use to be!”
Cathy shook her head low. “I need to find the Sleepies,” she said.
Janice giggled again and turned back into her covers. The Sleepies are not the Tooth Fairy,” Janice said with a little laughter in her voice. “Just lay down and go to sleep. They will find you; the imaginary Sleepies.”
Tired as she was Cathy returned downstairs. Everyone had gone to bed for the night. She sat in the dark while she sipped another glass of water. She thought about all the things adults had told her about the Sleepies. ‘When you get the Sleepies, it is past time for you to go to bed.’ ‘Don’t stay up too late or you’ll get the Sleepies!’ ‘The Sleepies will wrap themselves around you and take you off to sleep.’ Cathy got the message: Sleepies will put you to sleep. But what do they look like? Cathy sighed, “Where can I find them?”
She recalled all the stories she had heard about the Sandman. The Sandman sneaks into your bedroom each night to sprinkle sand in your eyes. Then he whispers sweet stories in your ears to give you good dreams. The Sandman has even been known to clean up a dreamer’s messy room. Cathy thought hard about that and it came to her that the Sandman sneaks into the bedroom from outside. Maybe Sleepies come from outside too.
Getting up she ran up to her bedroom. Right to her window she flew and opened it. “That should do it!” Cathy smiled and got into bed. She waited and waited. She watched and listened. She tossed and turned. She did about all she could do in a bedroom, but go to sleep. No Sleepies came to her window.
Cathy sat up. “This is ridiculous,” she cried. She yawned and yawned again. “Where are the Sleepies tonight?”
Cathy again looked out her window. She searched the starry skies. A crescent moon lite up a tiny cloud, but nothing, not even a stray moth could be seen from her window. She looked across her neighborhood, no Sleepies. She looked down into her backyard. Except for Belgium the Cat, nothing moved. She turned to sit in the window and thought what to do.
In a flash a plan came to her. Cathy rushed to make the plan happen. First, she opened the window wide as wide could be. Secondly, she went straight to where her Dad kept his flashlight. She grabbed it and, thirdly, Cathy headed out into the backyard.
Jumping off the porch, she ran out to the farthest place. She tripped over Belgium, almost lost the flashlight, and sat herself in her Mom’s garden. Cathy sat patiently as she carefully watched up at her bedroom window. The garden could not be a better spot to spy on her window. Cathy sat under a rose trellis. The darkness covered her like a heavy cloth. Even if the Sleepies wanted to find her, they would never see her there. Cathy could barely see anything under the roses either. That was the perfect place to spot any Sleepies coming to her window. She aimed the flashlight at the house, but did not turn it on. And she waited. And waited. And waited.
Tired as she felt, she could not nap because she would miss the coming of the Sleepies to her window.
Suddenly there came movement in the night. Something moved just to her right side. Cathy got a little frightened and aimed the flashlight in that direction. Before she could turn it on, Belgium purred. “Oh, it’s just you.” Cathy cried and reached down to pet the cat. Belgium stepped right into Cathy’s hand. He purred again and placed something against her palm. Cathy sprung her hand back. It felt warm and strange. Cathy looked down but could barely make out what Belgium offered her. She could hardly even make out the cat in this darkness. Then she wondered what it could be? Maybe Belgium found a Sleepie? Who’s to know? Cathy had no idea what they looked like; or felt like? And it did feel warm, cuddly and soft. Reaching down, Cathy took it when Belgium gave it to her. “Gosh! It is so cozy and like a soft pillow, “Cathy remarked. She turned on the flashlight to look upon it.
“Yikes!” She screamed and threw the bird Belgium had handed to her away. “Ugh!” The flashlight went flying. Cathy jumped up and Belgium screeched and dashed away. The cat had handed Cathy a dead bird!
“Oh, this is crazy.” Cathy huffed. She wiggled her fingers to get the cooties off. Cathy picked up the flashlight and headed back to the house. This search got her no where. She did pause right before she got onto the porch to glance back up at her window. No Sleepies.
When Cathy went to get up on the porch, she tripped again. Once again Belgium had got in her way. This time she banged her head on the porch handrail. Cathy sat on her knees and swung the flashlight at Belgium. “Stupid cat!” She cried while rubbing her head. As she sat there she realized she had begun to feel even more tired than before. “Perhaps the Sleepies have found me right here?” She wondered. “Come here, Belgium. Cuddle with me. Maybe I’ll sleep. Finally!”
She cuddled with the cat and tried to doze off to sleep. She felt so very sleepy. “I do not see them, yet I think they found me.” Cathy said. And, like all that night, Cathy tired hard to fall asleep.
“It does not work that way, Dear One.” A gentle voice woke her right up. When Cathy turned to see who spoke Belgium ran away faster than a frightened mouse. There before her; right there on the lawn of her backyard, stood a flurry of dazzling stars in the shape of a beautiful lady! “The Sleepies do not come to you if you try to fall asleep, Little One.”
“Who are you?” Cathy asked. Her head hurt. She found a bump right at the top of her forehead. It hurt to touch it.
“Oh, tender little One, you bumped your head. It will be alright.”
Cathy again felt the bump. “Who are you,” again she asked.
“I am the Starlight Princess, Cathy dearest,” The Starlight Princess sweetly said. She waved her right hand and touched the child’s bump. It helped the pain and the bump to go down. “You need to sleep, my poor lonely girl out of doors and bumping into the stair rail.”
Cathy shook her head in complete agreement. “Oh, yes, Starlight Princess, I do. But I cannot find the Sleepies. Until this very moment I have been wide awake!”
The Starlight Princess stroked Cathy’s long hair. “Go back indoors. Return to the comfort of your bed. Lay down, close your beautiful eyes and the Sleepies will come to you at last. You will not find them outside, you wonderful, misguided young lady.”
Just then Belgium jumped up into Cathy’s face. Belgium purred and stroked his face up against Cathy’s face and through her hair. Cathy jerked backwards and pushed Belgium aside, but the Starlight Princess had vanished as suddenly as she had appeared. Cathy frowned. “Nice lady,” was all she said.
The bump on her head along with all the excitement had gotten to her. The Starlight Princess spoke truthfully; time to go to bed. Besides the starry lady must have some sway with the Sleepies. Perhaps she is sending them up to Cathy’s bed right now. Cathy sprang to her feet. She apologized to Belgium for how she tossed the cat aside. Then she made her way up on the porch and to the back door.
It was shut tight and locked.
“Oh, my,” she sighed, “I locked myself out.”
Not knowing what to do, Cathy just stood there peering into the glass window of the door. She took the flashlight and lite up the area as if something might come to her attention to get her back inside. Nothing came so she shut the light off.
Belgium cried a tiny meow and rubbed himself across Cathy’s legs. Cathy came to her knees and pet Belgium. “You get inside, don’t you?” She said to the cat. “Can you show me how you get in. Can you?”
Belgium walked briskly away and purred out a meow. Cathy followed him off the porch and over to the basement doors. Belgium vanished into a small hole made by a loose board in the door. Cathy flashed the light down at the loose board. “Too small for me,” she reckoned. “And I really don’t want to go down into that scary basement, Belgium.”
“Belgium?” Cathy called. She sat near the hole and shined the light into it. “Belgium? Where are you, pussy cat?” Belgium did not return, but the cat did sing out a long meoooow as if calling Cathy to him.
Cathy placed the flashlight on a garden cart so it illuminated the entire basement doors, especially the loose board. Pouting her lips and wringing her hands, she tried to open the board enough to fit through. Instead the entire door swung open. It’s lock had been broken for years, Cathy had forgotten. She sighed, took the light then climbed down into the basement.
Before she had left the cement stairway or entered the basement itself, she paused because she heard a thumping sound. It was faint, a small, faraway bang, bang, bang. What could that be? Was there someone or something down here? Cathy stepped backward and out of the doorway from where she came. Belgium came into the flashlight’s beam. He gave another meow as if calling her back down. “What’s down there, Belgium? What?” His answer came in the form of another meow.
Basements are scary things all on their own. Always dark, always damp, cold and full of strange things left there by adults – and children too. Sometimes the furnace made a sound like far away thunder. Sometimes there were creaks and moans from what Dad called the house settling. But Cathy never ever heard a thumping sound before now. Was a thing walking around down there?
Suddenly it stopped.
Cathy spent a long time at the top of the basement stairs with the light shinning into the basement. She strained her ears until they hurt and that caused her bumped head to pain her again. Belgium slowly climbed the cement stairway and came to Cathy’s ankles. He slithered around them and purred. “I guess it’s just another spooky sound in the scary basement,” Cathy whimpered. She had her orders from the Starlight Princess. No princess would send Cathy into danger. So she stepped down with Belgium right alongside her.
She aimed the flashlight to and fro as they entered into the large, damp basement. Slowly and cautiously they snuck across the basement floor as if the air pushed back at them. The flashlight did not light the basement well, there were several rooms down there; the furnace room, the laundry room, Dad’s small work room that he never uses and two other rooms filled with stuff not worth throwing away, but not worth keeping either.
Cathy and Belgium were just about halfway passed the laundry room and close to the stairs that lead up to the kitchen when, without warning the thumping returned. Belgium dashed for the stairs. Cathy’s eyes popped open. She aimed the light into the laundry room when she saw from floor to ceiling a misty haze. “A ghost!” Cried Cathy. In a heart beat she was up the stairs and through the kitchen door as fast as feet could carry her!
She nor Belgium paused in the kitchen. They ran right up the stairs. They were in Cathy’s bed as fast as light could travel. Together they hide under the covers. The flashlight never turned off.
Cathy shivered with fear. Belgium huddled with her for just a couple of minutes. Then, as cats will do, he forgot all about the ghost and left Cathy alone under the blanket. The flashlight blinked. Cathy thought about how mad Dad would be if she ran down the batteries. She turned it off. Still hiding under the blanket she realized she heard birds singing. It was morning!
Slowly pulling the blanket off her, Cathy saw that she was correct; it was morning after all.
Do Sleepies come when you are suppose to wake up?
Her head hurt. She felt very tired from her nightly ordeal. And she did feel a little sleepy. “At last.” Cathy purred like the cat. “I did not find them. They are here now with me.”
She laid down on her bed and followed the instructions from the Starlight Princess. And the Sleepies embraced her, soothed her and sang soft songs to her. The Sandman sprinkled dust in her eyes and whispered a sweet story about a beautiful Starlight Princess. Cathy finally fell off to sleep.