Vienna had lost her sleep lately. Every morning behind the see-through curtains in her room, she would see the sun go up in the sky. Most nights she laid awake next to her husband who snored intermittently. Some nights after sex, she would just curl up and go inside her head, counting beds. She often counted backward because someone told her it helps the brain relax. She had complained about her condition to too many people by now. Initially, her husband would stay awake with her and sleep off by morning. But as days passed he too gave up. Her sleeping pills rarely worked and somedays she had to control her urge to pop more than one.
She was exhausted most days. Her superiors at work complained about her performance. Her colleague, concerned about her health handed her a visiting card. “Lavender Lullabies” she uttered. There was an address scrawled at the back of the card. “Go here.” He whispered almost inaudible pointing to the address in the card. “Give this card and tell the woman I sent you there. Tell her your problems. She should be able to help you.” Vienna tucked the card behind her phone case. The colleague then proceeded to say, “Don’t tell anyone about her. See she has some illegal businesses going on too and she doesn’t want publicity. But I am sure this will help you.”
Although she was unsure of his suggestion, Vienna decided to give it a try. She took a bus and a train and walked the rest of the way. The alley was busy. She located the shop. The décor was Hippie, more like the early 70s. She rang the doorbell and a woman with dark red hair answered the door. She let welcomed Vienna inside. Vienna noticed a customer buying some candles and decided to pretend like she was browsing until the customer left. As soon as the customer left Vienna blurted, “Ahem…Excuse me?” The woman smiled and said, “Yes.” Tugging at her crescent pendant. Vienna handed the card to her after scanning left and right for people and said I need to talk to you. The woman hesitated but proceeded to listen to her after Vienna told her about how she got her contact.
The woman took her to another room and asked her what was troubling her. When Vienna told about her insomnia, the woman turned around and opened a jar. She put a handful of the substance on a paper and folded it. “Put it in your bag.” She urged. “Go home. After you take a cold shower, add the whole thing into boiling water. Wait till the colour turns green from brown. Drink it up like any other tea. It should solve your problem. Now don’t look back and go right away.” Vienna carefully tucked the paper in her bag and scrawled away without looking back.
Her heart raced. She was sweating both because of the heat and stress. She jumped right into the shower and washed quickly. She followed the woman’s instructions with no faith and waited for the water to turn green. She slowly sipped the tea as she sat on her armchair looking outside her window.
She looked out as the evening lights shimmered away. It was a little after dark and the crescent moon owned the night sky. A bluebird sat on the ridge of her window and chirped. It chirped and chirped while she thought How unusual of a bird to sit on the ledge! It must be lost she thought How old must it be? “What are you doing here little friend?” she chirped and giggled. Flickering lights mocked the dark and her sanity. The bluebird’s voice distorted and gradually she could hear it in her mother’s voice. She huddled on the armchair, her eyes drooped and she could feel her mother’s arms holding her, singing to her in the sweetest voice known to her.
Her husband came home to see her curled on the armchair, drooling. He froze for a moment and rushed to shake her. She fell on his arms, dribbling spit on his shirt like a baby, and let out a cough. He picked her up from the armchair and put her to bed. While tucking her in, she held his hand and smiled unconsciously. He kissed her forehead, turned around to pick the teacup, and sniffed it almost gagging. He stared across the room at her angrily but hearing her snore he walked away relieved.