Welcome to the fourth issue in Season Two of The Cure for Sleep: Stories From (& Beyond) the Book. This month’s theme over on Substack concerns friends: subscribers were invited to respond to the following prompt: How did they begin – our great friendships? What words or gestures were risked – and rewarded?
Any stories received on this theme will be curated below. Click on each name to go direct to that reader’s contribution.
My father’s closed door, the unrest of my childhood home, all the house moves, the nerve-fray: this had made me an outcast. But like so many who feel tender and unsure, I’d pretended arrogance until it became me: scales on my eyes and a hard shell around self made from layer after layer of refused opportunities.
Graduations, birthdays, christenings, weddings: these official threshold events have photographs that help us celebrate and remember. Our small, private steps from fear into courage are rarely recorded this way, so it is easy to forget their importance. How life can be transformed by taking a breath and walking through a door on an ordinary day.
There is no photo that shows me pushing through the stiff entrance to a converted church one spring morning, come with my son to its playgroup. Finding a space among the toys spread out. Laying my baby on one of the mats, heart hammering, before making shy upward glances at others who had come alone.
A few familiar faces. Women I’d seen in clinics? At the supermarket? And over there – stranger with a cloud of dark hair who spoke to her boy in a calm, quiet voice I admired.
If she was on the radio, I’d listen all day.
I thought this and smiled.
She smiled back.
These simple exchanges that change everything.Shadrick, Tanya. The Cure for Sleep (pp. 127-128). Orion. Kindle Edition.