it’s hard to sleep in sweden

She figures if she talks non-stop for a minute or two I’ll forget that she doesn’t miss me, that I’ll overlook the fact that she can’t even for once fake it….”


by michael estabrook



You’d think the jetlag, and sitting all day long in a dark meeting room, and the six hour time difference would make sleeping easy in Sweden, but it isn’t. Hard to say what it is, your biological clock maybe, but you simply don’t sleep, you’re up and down and rolling around in an uncomfortable bed with flat lifeless pillows thanking God for even a patchy paltry 3 or 4 hours of desperately needed rest. After three days, I call my wife. I miss her and maybe now after suffering in the void I have left behind she’ll for once for a change in our thirty year marriage actually miss me. I tell her I miss her like I always do and ask (I’m a glutton for punishment), “So do you miss me?” There’s a lengthy pause, maybe she’s chewing something or gathering her thoughts. “Well . . .” more pausing (my wife never lies, bless her heart, she’s like Superman) “I’ve been real busy.” Oh grand, she still doesn’t miss me, some things never change. “I tore up the carpet in my office. I just had to do it. The floor beneath is beautiful, unblemished, but I’m really sore now.” (She figures if she talks non-stop for a minute or two I’ll forget that she doesn’t miss me, that I’ll overlook the fact that she can’t even for once fake it – “Yes, of course, sweetheart, I do miss you, how could I help but miss you, and I can’t wait for you to get back home to me.” (Is that too much to ask, really, for a little truth-stretching? But not my wife. She has her principles after all, or something like that.)

“And you’ll never guess what else, it’s so weird.” It’s 11 o’clock at night in Sweden and still really light outside (maybe that’s why I can’t sleep). It’s quiet, I can hear the clock on the boring hotel wall ticking my life away. “For the first time ever I met one of my girlfriends out at a bar for drinks. Isn’t that funny? I had a pina colada.” OK, yeah, that’s cool. Did she go out dancing too? But I don’t want her to think I’m jealous and petty. “Yeah, ha, that is pretty funny,” I say. What’s this world coming to, I wonder into the phone. I leave town for less than a week on business to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads (as my Dad would put it) and my poor tee-totaler wife comes unglued, goes out drinking and renovates the house to impress me I suppose. Ha! Guess she does miss me after all.

Originally published:
Issue Forty-Two
April 2006


Seems I’ve been writing poetry for so long that Methuselah should be taking notice, but in reality, time is simply doing its thing streaking ahead blithely pulling all of us along for the wild ride whether we like it or not; reminds me, I’ve published 15 chapbooks over the years, the last one being “when Patti would fall asleep” by Liquid Paper Press in 2003, guess it’s time to work on another one. — Michael Estabrook.  More stories from Michael Estabrook can be found in the Vault of Smoke.

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