white night (n): 1. a sleepless night 2. a night without full darkness, as during the summer in high altitudes

I was content to just lie in bed the first night, the first two nights, even. I'd just watch the light filter through the black curtains, listen to the steady breathing of the sleeping girl next to me, watch her stomach rise and fall.

Because I could not sleep.

Turn on the teevee, mute it, and watch Miss Cleo's expressions, trying to read her lips. $3.99 a minute seemed like a good deal at 3 o'clock in the morning. I'd doodle a few pictures on hotel stationery, outlining the green letters, then filling them in.

Because I could not sleep.

Out on the balcony, it felt like noon, but inside girls were tossing in their beds, busy at work inside their heads. Back inside, I'd lie down, squeeze my eyes shut and pretend to be asleep. Maybe then I actually would.

Then the birds would start chirping, disoriented by the endless day.

And I'd lie in my bed, because I could not sleep.

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