I Like to Call it Sleep
By Francine Witte

"Now I am watching the phone, waiting..."

Once my father slept for two months. The doctors called it a coma.

Today is the first day of Frankie never calling again.

At first I kept waiting for my father to wake up. The doctors said I should have faith. I watched a machine forcing air in and out of my father's lost body. I knew this was the first day of his death.

I thought Frankie was different. Sensitive guy. Listened to me. Made me believe. That was before. Now I am watching the phone, waiting for it to ring. Just wake up and ring.

When I was a kid my father would snore when he slept. Shake the house, thin, crackery walls. Sometimes my little sister and I would wake up from the crush of the sound. We thought it was a monster.

I remember sitting across from Frankie in the coffee shop. We ordered coffee till we could float. He just listened. Sat and listened when I told him we could only be friends.

My father was a monster. We were really only safe when he slept. The snoring was scary. The not snoring was scarier.


One day I wasn't looking and Frankie took my heart. Right out of my purse. My fault for leaving it open.

One day I wasn't looking and my father bruised my mother so bad, she had to go to the emergency room. They sent her home with a cookie.

Over there on the desk, the clock is ticking. The clock keeps ticking. No matter what. No matter what else stops.

That breathing machine moved my father's chest up and down, up and down.

The clock is saying tick tock, you fool, you fool, tick tock, tick tock.

I stopped going to the hospital to see my father. I got tired of watching. Someone who was there told me he just quietly closed his eyes.

I know how never calling again begins. Men leave such a trail of quiet. You just hear it and hear it.

The thing about death. The thing about death.

I know he's gone. I know what it is. But I like to call it sleep.


...for more information, visit Francine Witte's website.

please email ducts with your comments.