Innocent Questions and Sleepless Nights

Modern Day

One thing that they didn't tell you about college, Spot Conlon learned, is that while living in the dorms, you would become painfully aware of all your roommate's habits. Spot had lived with his roommate David for nearly seven months, and he found his habits absolutely fascinating.

For example, David ordered all of his books in alphabetical order. His desk was always in perfect condition. His bed was always made, and altogether, David's side of the room looked like nobody lived there. David always had a six-pack of Diet Coke in their mini fridge. He never ate candy with nuts in it, not because he was allergic, but because he just didn't like the taste. He ate his pizza backwards, crust first. He had sarcastic commentary on everything, but never said any of it loud enough for anyone but the person sitting closest to him to hear.

But the one thing that fascinated Spot the most was that David didn't sleep. Well that wasn't entirely true. David slept, but his sleep schedule was methodically planned out.

For the first two months of school, Spot just assumed David was an insomniac. The other boy spent every night awake in front of his laptop, never catching more than an hour or two of sleep per night (his grades didn't seem to suffer for it, Spot noticed in jealousy). But then suddenly it stopped. For two months after that, David slept normally like everybody else.

The pattern went on. Every two months, David would go on bouts where he didn't sleep. And Spot for the life of him couldn't figure out why. As the semester went on and David and Spot became closer (if not friends, than at least acquaintances) Spot finally got the courage to ask.

He brought up the subject casually.

"So Davey." Spot said. "Why don't you sleep?"

The other boy looked up from the essay he was typing and frowned.

"I don't see how that's any of your business." He said, and went back to furiously typing.

"I was just curious." Spot said with a shrug.

"Whatever," David said not looking up from his laptop.

"I just think it's strange is all. Not to mention you pounding on your keyboard all night keeps me up."

David looked up and glared.

"Well I'm so sorry for bothering you Spot."

"No bother. Just interesting."

The boys went back to their quiet activities, resuming the normal peace of the room.

"It's my brother." David said after a while.

"Hm?" Spot said looking up from his history book.

"Why I don't sleep." David said. "It's my brother, Les. He's ten."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

"So why are you chatting up your brother so late at night." Spot asked.

"Les is sick. He has cancer. Some type of leukemia."

Spot paused unsure of what to say next.

"Wow. Sorry. I didn't know." Spot said awkwardly.

"It's fine. He's had it for years. Since he was three. Recently the chemo stopped working, so he and my parents are in Spain trying this new experimental type of chemo. I used to sit with him during the treatments, but now I'm here and he's across the country, so on the nights he has chemo I stay up to chat with him online." David told him. "That's why I don't sleep."

"Oh." Spot said. "Sorry I asked."

"Don't be. It's not some big secret or anything. And I figured you were bound to notice sometime."

Spot nodded. He wanted to say something else but David had already gone back to his essay. They went back to their silence in peace. After a couple hours Spot rubbed his eyes and announced that he would be turning in for the night.

"Goodnight Spot."

"Night Dave." Spot answered. And then he said a little more quietly: "You're a good guy David."