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Mary turned on the white lamp next to her bed and squinted as her eyes adjusted to the intensity of the bright light. She glanced at the clock on the wooden night table next to her bed; it read two minutes after three o'clock AM.

"Uggh," Mary exclaimed loudly as a wave of anger surged through her.

It was Sunday night—or rather Monday morning—and she had school today. Now that she had managed to get to bed a little bit earlier she woke up again. But it made sense, Friday and Saturday she had woken up at three o'clock and her body had adjusted to the schedule. Then she just stayed up, now she had to get enough sleep to be able to get out of bed at six in the morning.

Well, I'll just go back to bed, Mary thought. She flicked off the lamp and sunk back into her comfortable bed. She turned on her side, pulled the sheet over her shoulder, and tried to relax her mind.

She tried to count sheep, but that didn't work. She tried to think about going to sleep, but that made her apprehensive. She tried thinking about school, but that stressed her out. The longer she thought the tenser she got.

A Natural Lullaby girl looking at the moon
The shining full moon outside threw a blanket of light into her room

After a while of worrying, bad thoughts crept into her head. I won't be able to concentrate on my math test. I'm going to be so tired tomorrow. I have to get to sleep, I already got to bed late. I won't be able to move tomorrow morning. I could fall asleep in class.

Mary's eyes shot open as she realized that she had been lying there forever and she wasn't asleep yet. She looked at the clock and the green letters read three-forty already. Time always seemed to go so much faster when you were trying to go to sleep.

Mary pushed her thick red hair out of her face angrily and switched on the light as she sat up on her bed. She was frustrated, exasperated, and most annoyingly her adrenaline was running. She rested her chin on her hands as her mind raced with possible solutions to this nightmare.

She could go downstairs and get a drink of water? No, she might wake someone up. She could try to go back to bed again? No, that would just lengthen this nightmare. She could read her book? Yes, that would make her sleepy enough to go to sleep.

She picked up her thick book and studied the cover. It read Anne of Green Gables on the front. It had a picture of Anne running across a picture-perfect field. She never had any trouble sleeping.

She plopped back into the bed and turned to where the page was dog-eared. She read, half paying attention and half worrying if reading would really work. After another eternity she looked at the clock. Four-thirteen.

She bit her lip furiously, and fiercely pressed her palm into her eye. She pushed loose hair away from her face, turned off the lights, and closed her eyes.

She sat there for a while thinking peacefully, very aware of the fast pace of her heart. She opened her eyes gently and looked to the open window next to her bed.

The stars outside twinkled brightly against the black sky; the shining full moon outside threw a blanket of light into her room. Mary studied the moon carefully and made out some of the craters to be the cheerful face of the Man in the Moon.

As the cool breeze blew against her she drew her beige comforter closer to her body. Although it was cold, the wind felt calming on her face. She breathed it in; it felt cold and refreshing in her lungs.

She closed her eyes.

She heard the familiar sounds of crickets and trees swaying in the breeze. She loved the sounds of nature, they weren't loud or abrupt. They were subtle and beautiful. They were a natural lullaby . . .

With that thought and a feeling of revitalization she drifted into a deep sleep.

A Natural Lullaby Leah Richmond
Leah Richmond, 11
Louisville, Kentucky