Overeducated and underemployed, Ivy League graduate Agnes Larch spends every day steeped in failure and sleeps every night without dreaming…that is, until the unexpected death of Ian Millbrook, the boy she’s silently loved her whole life. Grieving and forced to confront her long-buried feelings for Ian, Agnes undergoes an arduous physical and spiritual journey to unearth her past and untangle her future. She walks in two worlds, the waking and the dreaming, each world filled with secrets, mysteries, and maybe, if she believes enough, miracles.
Genre: Contemporary with PNR elements (dream world)
page count: 332
BUY SLEEPERS, AWAKE ON AMAZON / BARNES AND NOBLE
SLEEPERS, AWAKE ON GOODREADS
Last night I dreamed. I have not dreamed in over a decade, not since my mother walked out on my dad and me. When she left our lives, so ended my dreaming.
I know, I know, they say if you don’t dream, you eventually go crazy. I must do something like dreaming, something involving REM, because when I wake up, I feel like my brain has reset. But I never dream. I imagine my brain just shuts down with nonsense, like a TV tuned to nothing, a screen filled with snow.
I settle back into the couch and begin drawing again. Without warning, the power goes out. I exhale slowly and set my pencil down, folding my hands together as if in prayer.
In the dark, without the drawing to distract me, I realize how cold I am. Feeling my way to the closet, I dig out my old sleeping bag. I slither into it and potato-sack-race hop back to the couch. I sit in my sleeping bag on the couch in the dark and listen to myself breathe.
All is dark and still, even in the city. The falling snow muffles everything. Hush, hush, it seems to say. My nose is quite cold. I imagine a thermal photograph of the room, my body an explosion of oranges and reds, with a humorous yellowish-green spot at the tip of my nose. My cell phone on the coffee table chirps, breaking the stillness. Tricia is calling me. I haven’t heard from her in ages.
“Hey, stranger,” I say.
“Oh, Agnes,” she says, sounding troubled.
“Is everything all right?” I ask.
“Have you heard the news?”
“The power’s out,” I say, not understanding.
“Did you hear about the plane crash?” she says. I can feel the cold clamminess return.
“Yeah, I heard something about it this morning. Out near Chicago, yeah?”
“Agnes, didn’t you hear?”
“What?” Why am I suddenly afraid?
“Do you remember Ian Millbrook, from school?”
It’s a name I haven’t heard spoken aloud in years, and my heart thuds unevenly just having the familiar syllables beat against my eardrum.
“Of course,” I say haltingly, wondering what on earth this has to do with anything.
“He was on that plane.”
“Wait, what?” I don’t understand how her two sentences can possibly fit together. These puzzle pieces are defective.
“He was on the plane, Agnes. He’s dead.”
With a swish and a beep as the appliances in my apartment take a deep breath, the power comes back on, the TV loud and embarrassing like a drunk uncle at a family reunion. I blink at the sudden and painful light, and it’s as if my heart has stopped. My ears still ring with the remembered silence, Tricia’s last words echoing in my mind. Ian Millbrook is dead.