When I was little I spent a lot of time trying to sleep, unable to. Eyes clenched, working myself into a fret over possibilities - nightmares, tomorrow, never being able to sleep ever again. I learned to worry early. My mother knew, and came to sit on the edge of my bed.

I am planting a garden, she would say.

Her fingernails scratch light circles all over my back. I am plowing up the dirt in my garden. I am making it nice and loose so that good things can grow in it.

She rakes her nails, hard but not too hard, from my neck, over the shoulderblade hills, down to the small of my back. I am digging the rows in my garden. What should I plant?

It feels so good I am already close to drowsy, at least less painfully alert. Ice cream, I say into my pillow.

Ok. Ice cream. Ice cream ice cream ice cream ice cream ice cream. She plants ice cream with little twisty fingertip taps. All the way down the first row. What else should I plant in my garden?

Peanut butter cookies. I have been a fool for peanut butter cookies since I could gum them into bits. Ok. Peanut butter cookies peanut butter cookies peanut butter cookies.

Daisies. Seven-Up. Chicken soup the kind Gramma Sara makes with the little stars in it. Legos. These are all old choices. Sometimes I try to surprise my mother with a new one, like hundred dollar bills or baby brothers. She is maybe amused but never surprised. She is the one who surprises me. I always think This will be the night she does not know how much I need this. Or Tonight she will get sick of it and hurry through the garden. But she never once sighs or says That's enough now just go to sleep. She sits by me, her hands warm on my back, until I am safe in dreams. She surprises me every time.

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