She sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night. It doesn’t bother her. That is, the waking doesn’t bother her; she and insomnia are old friends. It’s what she sees when she wakes up that bothers her.
It used to be the old, cracked ceiling of the room she shared with her sister. Still in Georgia, still on the dirt farm. Disappointing, to say the least. Not to mention the prospect of trying to get back to sleep while Louisa snuffled and tossed beside her was never a pleasant one.
After that it was whatever train or ratty roadside inn the band was overnighting in. Sometimes it was the night sky, which wasn’t as bad, not with Zib pressed against her side, his lanky body giving off a surprising amount of heat.
After Atlas, the random waking led to more random midnight surprises. More than once she woke to a lonely bed and sound of Atlas whispering to someone in the hallway (“Don’t worry your head, love, it’s just business”) or to an empty house. Later on, she never woke to an empty house, even if Atlas was gone. More often than not if Atlas was away for the night she would blink into awareness to the sound of booted or oxforded feet patrolling outside her bedroom door. More disconcerting (that’s what the pounding of her heart was) was when she wasn’t at home and woke to find Atlas gone. And there would be Mordecai Heller sitting by the door, his pale face floating like a ghost’s above his dark suit. Usually he was reading, but sometimes he was not. In both instances he would flick his narrowed eyes at her, unreadable. For all her practice, she had a hard time falling asleep again on those nights.
Now she only wakes alone.