Although I couldn’t see her eyes, hidden behind the dark sunglasses, Doctor Phaer was one stunning lady… Maybe that’s why I paid attention to her soothing voice…

Otherwise, she was no different from the psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, gurus, quacks and charlatans I met over the years in my quest for help and relief.  Or was she?

I was desperate.  Imagine this: you are living your life, a normal functioning adult, healthy and happy, with a career and a family… and then you start having trouble sleeping.  You’re sleeping a little less all the time, taking progressively more meds to help. After maybe a year, you literally cannot sleep. At all. Not a wink aside from confusing snatches of semi-consciousness. Sleep aids don’t help anymore, but only increase the misery. The lack of sleep is killing you. You are becoming infinitely tired, and your entire body and mind are suffering exponential fatigue. And it’s getting worse… They labelled my condition as an extremely rare genetic disorder where the ability to sleep disintegrates over time.

Doctor Phaer listened even more attentively as I told her that I’d do anything for a week of good sleep.

“Anything?” her red painted lips whispered seductively, while I frantically nodded my answer.

I didn’t read the disclaimer form she pushed towards me.  I only grabbed her gold pen and signed my name in red ink.  I didn’t take any notice of the sting in my index finger or my blood staining the form…

I didn’t expect the red tablets she gave me to work but for the first time in years I had a night of wonderful, uninterrupted sleep.  And the one after too…

I was back in Doctor Phaer’s office on the last day in October.  How could I thank her for this miracle?  She hadn’t mentioned a fee, yet.  I stumbled on my thanks, offered her money.  She only smiled and pushed the disclaimer form towards me again.

“You have already paid me.  It’s all here in writing and you signed it.  You haven’t asked me my first name, Mr Faust.  It’s Lucy…”

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    1 year ago

    A tale deftly crafted from everyone’s awful experience of sleeplessness, with a classic folded in. A shivery surprise at the end!

    Sandra James
    Sandra James(@sandra-james)
    1 year ago

    Only yesterday I mentioned to a friend that I wish I didn’t sleep so I had more time to get things done – I take it back! I loved the build up, Greene, knowing Dr Phaer had a devious plan but puzzled until it became clear. But the spookiest thing for me was the name, very similar to my Dad’s doctor and one I’ve seen as well. Fortunately, a very nice man!… Read more »

    Carrie OLeary
    Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
    1 year ago

    A very clever story Greene, thoroughly enjoyed it; well paced and loved the play on words with the name. I can certainly empathise with your protagonist and would consider signing my name too, even knowing the doctor’s identity ?. Very nicely done.

    1 year ago

    Love it, Greene! I didn’t see the symbolism of the doctor’s name until she gave us her first name – then everything clicked. Another great Faustian story! May we all sleep well, or learn to enjoy our insomnia, knowing the alternative.

    Happy Halloween ?

    Dipayan Chakrabarti
    Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
    1 year ago

    Hi Greene
    I find the end of the story very convincing. Great!

    Christer Norrlof
    Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
    1 year ago

    A very cleverly composed and written story, Greene. It takes some thinking to connect the dots, but it pays off. Your description of the effects of insomnia is outstanding!

    Christer Norrlof
    Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
    Reply to  Greene M Wills
    1 year ago

    It’s a good thing we have our stories for those long, sleepless nights, Greene. “Insomnia is a nightmare” sounds like a funny (or not that funny) contradiction. Did you just make that up?

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    1 year ago

    Hello, Greene. It was a great ending. The ending answers all the questions that formed in my mind while reading. So satisfying and cleverly made. Great work.

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    Reply to  Greene M Wills
    1 year ago

    You’re welcome, Greene.

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