It's Friday night at midnight. I awake to stumble into the kitchen to eat a turkey sandwich. I have the munchies. I notice through my kitchen window that my neighbor, Joyce's, lights are still on. It is comforting to know I am not alone. Maggie jumps off the bed and follows me. She is never one to miss on the opportunity to get some people food. I put a slice of oven roasted turkey on some aluminum foil and place it near her dog dish. She waits until I am out of the laundry room to begin eating. She is such a funny little dog about such things.
My sandwich is washed down with a cold glass of whole milk. I mosey on out to the porch to smoke before heading to bed again. Joyce is sitting on a chair in her carport smoking a cigarette. She suffers from bi-polar and is in a manic phase. I have noticed tell tale signs lately. She is staying up at odd hours of the night.
"Howdy neighbor," I say.
"Can't sleep?" she asks.
"I got hungry."
"I took my medications and they didn't do anything to help me sleep tonight," Joyce says.
Her face lights up from the occasional red glow as she draws on her cigarette. It looks ghostly, like some visage out of Hades.
"It makes me feel good that you are up," Joyce then says.
"I thought the same of you," I reply.
It's a sultry night and the temperature is still in the eighties. Katydids are calling down in the big pecan tree in Joyce's backyard. A forlorn dog can be heard barking far off into the neighborhood. What is left of a full moon hangs on the horizon.
"Almost full moon," I say, pointing to it.
"You don't believe that old wives' tale, do you?" Joyce asked as she laughed.
"Well, you are having a hard time. My mother is on a high. I wonder if I will be next," I say with a smile.
Joyce laughs again and tells me not to believe all that nonsense. We are caught in a quiet moment as sleepiness overcomes me. I tell Joyce goodnight and lock my porch door. I turn to look outside through the window to see her still sitting there. I wish there was something I could do to make her feel better and to help her sleep. She put on a good front, but it was easy to tell she was struggling. I then knew what my parents felt like all those years when I was drinking and not taking my medications. You feel helpless. I wanted so much to comfort my neighbor. She has been such a good friend.
3 am rolls around and I am still awake, lying in the bed. The radio is softly playing and Maggie is curled up by my side. I get up to pee and look out my kitchen window once again to see Joyce still sitting there in the calm of the night. The most inescapable feeling of loneliness overcame me. I shuddered as I closed my blinds and tried to go back to sleep. My mind was tortured with thoughts of her sitting out there all night smoking cigarettes, alone. I hope she gets some sleep today. The mind is such a delicate thing and when it malfunctions our very lives can get out of kilter, but what beautiful minds they can be despite all odds.