Tuck You In, Warm Within, Keep You Free From Sin, Till the Sandman He Comes


In hindsight, Nasrin was surprised by how enthralling last night was, playing what must’ve been the most exciting game in the world: @ 1 point she had to speed through a series o’ tight, winding, tortuous water tunnels without letting the red crocodile ’hind her catch her. After somehow accomplishing that she found herself in a giant 3D Pac-Man maze where the power pellets were replaced by rifles & she had to use them to snipe @ the gunmen stations round the maze without getting shot herself. Then she blurrily remembered something ’bout impaling a vampire in a small cave just to the side o’ this cave & due to that being sent back to her normal time to tell a robotic partner ’bout his dire future, but most o’ that was a blur.

Then ’twas all ruined by that screeching noise that was her alarm, a noise that refused to leave her eardrums.

Despite their screeches, Nasrin remained in her bed, & in fact, only wrapped her blanket mo’ tightly o’er herself, including o’er her head.

No. Not yet. ¿Why’s tomorrow always have to come so oft? ¿Can’t it give me a break for once?

But her fear o’ whatever noneuclidean punishment they’d subject her to if she skipped without being sick o’erwhelmed her exhaustion & with all her strength she forced herself out o’ bed.

As she was lifting her backpack on her arm just before going out, her pupils sucked into her eyes & she punched her forehead.

Shit. That paper. ¿How could I forget? I kept reminding myself to do it as I walked home, & still I can’t remember.

O well. ¿What’s 1 mo’ prickling comment from 1 mo’ teacher?


Her next night’s dream was so vivid, she still wasn’t sure if ’twere merely a dream or a reality.

She was slowly trudging toward her bus stop out in the heavy, dark rain, only to screech to a stop ’pon seeing a mysterious man in a raincoat standing in front o’ her suddenly turn back to her. He stood @ an artful tilt & his dark bangs constantly dripped. She could smell some creamy, sugary scent on him.

Nasrin, you’re so tired. ¿Why don’t you finally rest?

¿H-how do you know my name? ¿Who are you?

His light laugh sounded like resonant clicks o’ a soft drum. You can call me the sandman.

Nasrin took a step back, but didn’t dare run.

You needn’t worry ’bout me: I can’t do anything but talk. This is a dream, after all.

¿What do you want?

This isn’t ’bout what I want, but ’bout what you want.

I just want to be left ’lone.

I have the solution to that.

The sandman held out his hand & opened it to reveal a chemical-white medicine bottle.

Nasrin’s brows fell. She wasn’t sure whether she should shiver e’en more or laugh.

¿Are those drugs?

Sleeping pills.

¿Why would I need those? I already sleep too much as is. I need the opposite.

The sandman shook his head, his bangs following.

One can ne’er sleep too much. ¿Don’t you like sleep?

Nasrin shrunk into herself. Um, I guess…

¿Aren’t you so exhausted from everything constantly interrupting your rest — prickling teachers, pushy costudents, & worse, that cage you call a body constantly prodding with hunger, exhaustion, & random aches? ¿Wouldn’t it be nice to have uninterrupted sleep? ¿To ne’er be bloodily pulled out o’ dreamland, as that blasted alarm always does?

Nasrin’s mouth quivered. I’d just screw up taking them, anyway. I can ne’er figure out that stuff — & I can’t swallow pills.

These can be chewed, & you can’t screw them up. Take a’least… 5 — the mo’ the better — & they’ll work just as fine. In fact, just to be super safe, just take the whole bottle. E’en if you miss 1 or 2, you’ll still be fine. Hell, e’en if you miss them all, you have plenty o’ opportunities to take them all ’gain. This 1 simple, safe procedure can be the last task you’ll e’er have to stress yourself o’er.

Nasrin stared @ the bottle still in the sandman’s hand & felt a heat spread ’cross her throat & chest that she only e’er felt when ill.

She looked back up @ the sandman & said, ¿Would I be able to come back?

The sandman stepped back & gawked @ her.

¿Come back? ¿Why would you e’er want to do that?

Nasrin shrugged. Might miss my music.

Nasrin, you have all o’ your favorite music saved in your mind. It can come with you with your dreams.

The sandman’s voice was on the blurry edge o’ her eyesight while her focus returned to the bottle.

I can… I can think ’bout it a while, ¿right?, said Nasrin, only for her to cringe immediately after @ the weakness o’ her voice.

’Course. Take all the time you need.

The sandman reached his hand out farther. Nasrin slowly reached her own out & grasped the bottle, feeling its damp shell rub roughly gainst her shivering hand.

The vast majority o’ Nasrin’s free time in the next few days was staring @ that bottle o’ sleeping pills, idly flipping the coin in her mind from heads to tails, tails to heads, & so on.


I’ll always have the opportunity to do it later; better err on staying.

I don’t know that. ¿What if father finds these? He might take them.

Indeed, in general she had been feeling as if time were running out since the beginning o’ the school year. Vines were clearly growing round the molding house, & hers were growing crookedly, till eventually they’d have to be pruned. She could smell the people round her preparing for college & other complication stuff, while she could barely handle her baby living. She knew adulthood would be e’en mo’ tiring, & mo’, & mo’, till it ground her to dust by itself. Just the thought o’ it was exhausting.

¿Why waste everything for everyone for nothing? It’s obvious some people are ne’er meant to pass on to adulthood like how some people aren’t meant to pass on to the next stage o’ a tournament. Let the people meant for adulthood keep it to themselves, mo’ for more o’ them, while I’m tucked ’way in ne’erne’er land, with them safe from me & me safe from them.

But no matter how much sense this made, she still couldn’t just do it. That was always her problem — the doing thing. She couldn’t understand how she was able to do the things she’d already been doing for the past years, but she knew she couldn’t do other things. She couldn’t understand why; her mind just wasn’t capable o’ doing new things. Taking this final trip to dreamland was just too big.

In fact, part o’ her wondered if she e’en deserved it. Yes, the regular world was tiring, but that was obviously ’cause she was meant to be punished for being lazy & stupid.

& still she ne’er got round to taking them. She’d always be interrupted by her father calling her for dinner or the realization that she needed to go to bed. Still, she felt she could feel the bottle o’ pills pulse through her under her mattress, & that gave her extra warmth as she became a visitor to dreamland once mo’.


Nasrin found her breaths become heavy when preparing to do what she felt she both couldn’t do & had no choice but to do. Yes, she e’en found breathing to be tiring. She wasn’t sure if she had a defective lung system or if she was just touchy. ’Twasn’t as if she could change anything, anyway, so she just tried to ignore it as much as possible.

Father… ¿Can I ask you something?

From ’hind his laptop monitor he murmured, You just did.

It’s… It’s kinda stupid, probably.

Her dad snorted. Thanks for the warning. C’mon, you know I love stupidity; now I have to hear it.

Nasrin paused, staring @ the arm o’ her father’s chair.

I’ll take it that you wanted to ask where I got such amazing upholstery, said her father.

¿Huh? Nasrin’s head jerked upward. Uh… No. No, I just wanted to ask… Just hurry & say it. The longer we wait… the mo’ suspicious… He’ll find the pills & destroy everything. Um, just out o’… it’s for some school assignment, I don’t know why… ¿What would you do if I went ’way?

Her father lifted a brow. As in, ¿to college? I doubt we need to worry ’bout that too much.

I meant, um… gone permanently.

Her father chuckled. ¿Like dead? Don’t tell me you think you have diabetes ’gain ’cause ’nother HeroHero you drank made you feel dizzy.

It’s a school assignment.

Her father snickered. ¿What kind o’ crazy shit are they teaching you guys? Wish I got writing assignments like that. I don’t know. He shrugged. I guess I’d have to waste money on a coffin & a place in the graveyard — though I guess I could just cremate you. On the plus side, I wouldn’t have to hassle myself with creating a big funeral or send a lot o’ invitations to many people, just me, your dumbass brother, — if he’s not busy trying to get himself killed by train hopping, joining the military, or some other stupid shit young people do nowadays — & your laptop. Hell, maybe I could have your ashes soldered to that music device you love so much so you’d ne’er have to be parted. ¿Wouldn’t that be fun?


Don’t get too ecstatic. We haven’t reached that point yet, ’less you happen to bleed to death tonight from accidentally cutting yourself on a Pok√©mon card or whatever children’s shit you still play with.

Nasrin wanted to assert that she ne’er had any real cards, only played roms o’ the Game Boy games, but then thought better o’ that.

¿Is that everything?, Nasrin said dully to the upholstery.

¿How long does this essay have to be?, asked her father. Shit, ¿do they want a novel or something?

That should be ’nough, actually, said Nasrin as she took a few steps backward.

Cool. Can’t wait till next week when you have to ask me what’ll happen when your brother becomes a pumpkin — spoiler: his IQ rises a few dozens. My favorite language arts classes were always the ones that ran like Twilight Zone brainstorms.

& with that Nasrin went back to her room to stare @ the bottle o’ pills, no closer to reaching a conclusion.


Nasrin stared @ her monitor, spaced with glances up @ the door or e’en the window to ensure they were still closed. The word burned in her search results like porn, tainting everything round it.

The words round it — & the #, the # she was s’posed to call, as if that were possible — weren’t hardly better. Sure, call & talk in privacy by making mouth noises — ¿What could possibly go wrong?, she thought in the voice o’ Bubsy the Bobcat. That was sure not to be netted in dangerous attention.

But then she conjured a plan: she realized her bus didn’t stop her right in front o’ her house, but a few blocks ’way, allowing her to wait before returning home, — texting her father, who didn’t reply anyway, that she would be late due to bus troubles — & then hide in bushes to make the debaucherous call.

She froze with her thumb o’er the deadly green button, the shibboleth “suicune” staring @ her.

¿What have I got to lose?

They might come down & force me to stop. They might tell everyone round me, who will punish me. They might lock me up. They might call me stupid.

I am stupid, though.

Nasrin shrugged & called.

A bored voice said, Suicide emergency hotline. ¿How can I help you?

Nasrin felt her voice lock up.

The voice repeated with mo’ petulant force, Suicide emergency hotline. ¿How can I help you?


The phone clicked. Nasrin looked @ it & saw that the other line had hung up.


Despite weeks o’ effort, Nasrin just couldn’t do it. She couldn’t ’splain why — all evidence seemed to show that it’d be best if she went ’way fore’er; she was just too much o’ a wuss to do it. Like always.

But she kept thinking ’bout them: whenever she somehow missed her alarm & had to have her father drive her to school; when she was stuck with an assignment she couldn’t do, like 1 that required her to get some material she couldn’t get ( usually ’nother person’s cooperation ); & ’specially when she had to write those personal essays for college apps or scholarships & realized what a paper weight she was.

Still, though she knew now that she’d ne’er use them, the fact that they were hidden down there, like a magic wand able to take her ’way from danger @ any time, made her feel warmer @ night &, she figured, added frosting to the temporary dreams she still had.