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Bedtime

beckendorfby Jessica Beckendorf

It is about 11 pm and I am getting ready for bed in the sunset colored bathroom. Laughter erupts from the street below. Curious, I open the wood shutters to see who would be up making so much noise. I can’t see anyone but two very young men – no more than16 or 17 – walking away from the direction in which the laughter originated. More laughter, followed by the giggles of young women. I close the shutters which does little to muffle the sound of the people below – now in a loud conversation interrupted frequently by laughing, giggling, cheers and yells. I finish brushing my teeth and walk into the bedroom where my roommate is sleeping. I crawl into bed.

I don’t know how much time goes by as I toss and turn, covering and uncovering my ears, silently cursing the 15 or 20 people that were keeping me from sleeping well tonight so I can be fresh and alive in the morning. What I assume to be a police officer drives by and speaks to the youth through a speaker. Although I am not sure what the officer has asked them to do, I assume he has done the right thing and asked them to go home – that is what would have happened hours ago in my neighborhood. I feel relieved.

The voices become faint and I begin to fall asleep. Suddenly, as though they knew the police officer was out of earshot and would not come back, more loud laughter and giggles erupt. The sound carries so well I can almost hear every word – if only I could understand it. Unable to fall asleep anyway, I begin to wonder what they are talking about and why they chose to stand under the windows of this apartment. They are quite young, so I imagine they are teasing each other about who likes whom and who is a better athlete, or something like that. The way the girls giggle tell me they are interested in one or more of the boys. The alley next to our apartment is secluded; they probably don’t even know they are bothering anyone. I wonder how to say “please be quiet” or “please go somewhere else” in Italian. The piazza clock strikes midnight. I feel relieved again – how much longer can it go on? Don’t they have a curfew? Aren’t their parents wondering where they are? When I was their age, my parents would have dragged me home by my ear if I hadn’t gone home yet at this hour.

It is now ten minutes to one o’clock. It is quieter. I can tell that some of them have left, but there must be at least 5 or 6 left. Still laughing and talking. I still can’t fall asleep.


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