Sometimes Steve takes Ambien to get to sleep. Just one little 5 mg pill is all it takes and soon he is sliding blissfully into a peaceful night of glorious restfulness. Well, one little pill and a little glass of wine, but that’s really just to wash down the Ambien and give it a little kick start as it prepares to work its magic on his nervous system. Well, sometimes it’s one and a half little pills, but really, the point is, sometimes Steve takes Ambien to get to sleep.
It’s very late on a Tuesday night, and Steve has to be in the office for a 9 a.m. meeting tomorrow morning. He can feel the morning crawling up on him with a knife as he lies awake in bed, the minutes ticking away, sleep having deserted him for a more promising lover, or so it seems. He can already see himself lying painfully awake all night and then falling asleep in that meeting the next morning, in front of his employees. Midnight scoffs at him on its way through the room, followed by 12:30, and finally Steve decides to take matters into his own hands. The Ambien bottle is downstairs, next to his computer; he pours a glass of wine on his way through the kitchen. He sits, takes a beautiful little pill from the big bottle, and pops it, letting a gulp of wine slosh around in his mouth to properly inform his nervous system that yes, oh yes, sleep will soon be on its way.
It’ll take ten, perhaps fifteen minutes for the pill to have its full effect. It works best if he’s in bed, already lying down, when the effects of the pill come on, but Steve is at his computer, and he can’t resist checking his email before he goes back to bed. He’s only got a few new messages to look at; he’ll just browse quickly and then head back upstairs before he even starts feeling any effects. The first message is a party invitation, the next a political rant, and then, surprisingly, he sees a message from an old high school friend that he lost track of after they graduated. There’s a link to a gallery of wedding photos, and he sees some friends in the photos that he hasn’t seen in years, and before you know it, there’s a man sitting in a chair next to him, wearing a tutu, haphazardly shaven, with a bored look on his face. The man has pink wings, and is reading the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly.
“Who are you?” Steve asks.
“I’m the Ambien Fairy, Steve,” the man says, almost irritated that Steve has to ask.
“Oh,” Steve replies. A moment passes, and then Steve is back to looking at wedding photos.
“Don’t you think you should send a reply to your high school buddy, Steve?” the Ambien Fairy says after a few more minutes pass.
“What?” Steve says. “Oh — oh, yes, I suppose you’re right. I could tell him all about my post-graduate work, and the great job I managed to find.”
“That sounds great, Steve,” the Ambien Fairy says, nodding politely. “But aren’t you forgetting something?”
Steve pauses, suddenly pensive.
“Don’t forget to mention that you’ve really come to love wearing dresses, Steve, and that last night, you had sex with a loaf of wheat bread and really, really enjoyed it.”
“Oh!” Steve exclaims. “Of course!”
Steve taps out his email as the Ambien Fairy waits patiently. “Won’t he be surprised!” Steve says, and the Ambien Fairy nods. Just as he’s about to send the message, the Ambien Fairy interrupts him.
“Don’t you think a few more people might like to hear about the great sex you had last night with a loaf of wheat bread, Steve?”
“Oh!” Steve exclaims. “Of course!”
Steve adjusts the “To” line of his email, making sure to add his girlfriend, his pals from the bar, his lawyer, and that woman he met at that one Christmas party and has been trying to score with ever since.
“Don’t forget your mother,” prompts the Ambien Fairy.
“Right, right,” says Steve, immediately realizing what a silly mistake that would have been. Moments later, the email is sent. Steve feels a great sense of accomplishment.
“What next?” Steve asks.
“Well, Steve,” the Ambien Fairy replies, “you’re not asleep yet, so maybe you need to take another Ambien pill.”
“That’s a great idea!” Steve exclaims.
“But before you do, Steve, I think you should go upstairs and attempt to convert your housemate to Zoroastrianism.”
“Really?” Steve asks.
“Really. Don’t worry, Steve. You won’t remember any of this in the morning, so it doesn’t really matter if you succeed or not. Just give it your best effort and we’ll all be happy!” The Ambien Fairy absent-mindedly flips pages in his Entertainment Weekly.
“Right!” Steve exclaims. He jumps up from his desk, spilling his wine in a dramatic fashion, and charges upstairs to his housemate’s room, where he begins knocking incessantly on the door. “Carl!” he shouts. “Carl, have I told you about the glory of Zoroastrianism?”
The door to Carl’s room opens, and there stands Carl — sleepy, angry, naked.
“Steve, remember that talk we had about only taking Ambien when you were already in bed?” Carl mumbles sleepily.
“Nope! I must have been on Ambien when we had that talk!”
“GOD FUCKING DAMMIT, STEVE!”
The door slams. Steve forgets his mission; fortunately, the Ambien Fairy is now relaxing on the couch nearby, ready to remind him that there are more beautiful little Ambien pills awaiting his pleasure. He dashes downstairs, pops another.
The alarm goes off promptly at 7 a.m. “What a relaxing night that was!” he thinks to himself as he climbs out of bed and heads for the shower. He doesn’t think to question the peanut butter smeared all over the bathroom walls or the fact that the toilet bowl is cracked into several pieces. His shower concludes and he makes his breakfast, oblivious to the small fire that is smoldering in the sink. “Today is going to be a wonderful day!” he thinks, as he grabs his keys and jumps into the car. He barely notices how sluggish he feels.
Halfway through his 9 a.m. meeting, he realizes he is standing atop a cliff overlooking a vast purple ocean, as the drone of his coworkers rambling on about schedules and focus groups fills the air around him. The Ambien Fairy stands next to him, chomping loudly on a bagel.
“What’s going on?” Steve asks.
“Your coworker just asked you when you’d have that spec written, Steve,” the Ambien Fairy replies.
Steve’s eyes pop open. His coworker Judy is looking at him, patiently awaiting an answer.
“Thursday!” Steve exclaims.
Judy smiles and writes something in her notebook.
“This can’t be happening,” Steve says, as a gigantic tornado rises up into the air on the horizon and begins decimating an entire village full of sentient upright weasels. He is still feeling the Ambien; shouldn’t that single little pill have cleared his system by now?
“Sure it can, Steve,” the Ambien Fairy replies. “You took five pills last night — don’t you remember?”
Steve frantically consults his memory banks and finds them empty for much of the night. He opens his eyes with great difficulty, just in time to see his coworker Tad turn to him and ask, “And what about moving the launch date, Steve?”
All eyes in a crowded conference room are on him now. There’s only one right answer to that question.
“Yes?” he gambles.
The room sighs with relief and Tad writes a new launch date on the white board, as Steve’s eyes close despite his best efforts.
“And now, Steve, I’d like you to pull your pants down and start proclaiming your support for Che Guevara,” the Ambien Fairy says.
“NO!” Steve exclaims. “I won’t let this happen!”
“Steve,” the Ambien Fairy says quietly, letting his Entertainment Weekly drop to his lap, “if you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”
Steve ignores the soothing tones of the Ambien Fairy; his eyes snap open and focus intently on the quadruple short mocha in front of him. He snaps it up in his hands and in one quick intake, the caffeine from the mocha is coursing through his veins. Miraculously, no one in the meeting seems to notice, and minutes later, it is 10 a.m., time for everyone to go their separate ways and get work done. Steve relaxes and quietly celebrates as his employees filter out of the conference room. Finally, at long last, he turns to leave.
A man in a Spandex jumpsuit is standing in the doorway.
“Hey there, Steve, all ready to go, Steve, we’ve got all those documents for you to look at, Steve, and then you’ve got those emails to read, Steve, and don’t forget those afternoon meetings you’ve got, Steve, and maybe you’ll need some soda pop to get you through the day, Steve, and hey, what are you doing for lunch, Steve, because I’ve got some errands we can run, Steve…”
Steve pushes past the Caffeine Fairy and makes his way to his desk. It is clearly going to be a very long day.