I could stay up past coherent, structured time every night. And never notice. I sit down ostensibly to write, but not until I’ve disconnected from emails, FB and from reading blogs do I actually begin.

But then it happens. One scene later and I’m no longer thinking of emails that didn’t come. Four or five scenes later, I no longer hear the rain pelting the windows. I’m only vaguely aware that the house has grown around me; the darkness stretching into unknown areas that disappear in the day. And all that remains of my identity are the words that emerge on the glowing screen of my monitor.

They all sat in the brown waiting room. Brown chairs with strait backs and wooden arms, brown tables with dated, dog-eared magazines scattered on them, and brown chair rails dividing the tan walls. The darkness of the night was held back beyond bare windows with brown-shaded brass lamps.

Lucy, her eyes red, but her face stoic, had her arm around Adela in the chair next to her. Adela’s head had dropped to Lucy’s shoulder with surrender. Her sobs had given way to gulping hiccoughs, her small frame, once again fifteen, had lost all of its bravado. On the other side of Lucy, Mr. Bridger sat, stiff and pale, staring at a blank wall across the room. His hand held Dr. Bridger’s right hand firmly. The professor, her gray suit wrinkled, shook uncontrollably. Tiny, trembles that she seemed unable to stop. She kept looking at her free hand. Finally she sat on it. Suzanna had never seen her like this. Vulnerable. Suzanna looked away.

At 10:38 p.m., according to the tauntingly slow clock on the wall, a doctor walked into the waiting area. “Are you Atticus’s family?”

The image of a clock drags me from the waiting room in the hospital and I am once again in my black swivel chair, staring at black characters imposing themselves onto a white page that has no real life form. A glance at the lower right hand corner of the screen tells me I’ve written too late again.

In this reality, there will be a bed-side lamp left on for me, but the lump on the other side of the bed will be motionless and deep asleep.

Time to call it a night. I’m tempted to finish the scene, but then I remember that one of the best ways to get me back writing the next day is to leave a scene unfinished.

Fifteen minutes later, I’m lying next to the motionless lump that rolls toward me and becomes a warm body. He reaches out for my hand, then falls back asleep. I lay there in the darkness, with covers pulled up to my chin, and listen to the distant creaks of a house that only settles at night when I can’t see it moving.

And then my soul transports back into the hospital waiting room.