I drew clubs again this week in the Deal Me In short story reading challenge. That means I read a story by Chekhov. Charlie showed me a couple Chekhov stories in the past, because he loves Chekhov. One of them was ghastly. I didn’t realize he wrote so many ghastly stories! Why did nobody warn me? Why??
by Anton Chekhov
You know how you have to be awake when you’re really, really sleepy? And how you gradually are kinda sorta or really truly asleep, even when you’re “awake”?
Well, this poor little 13-year-old servant girl, Varka, has to work all day and sit up all night rocking a colicky baby. No telling how long this has gone on when the story begins. The master and mistress have absolutely no sympathy for her, they don’t even appear to have a clear understanding that Varka is even a human being.
Varka, in turn, doesn’t appear to have a clear understanding that anybody is a human being. She wake-dreams about her father’s death and the migration of herself and her mother into town to hire themselves out as servants so they can live. Varka, the master, the mistress, and the baby seem no more real than the figures in her dream, some of whom were real, some of whom are only dream figures.
And guess whose fault she decides it is that she isn’t allowed to go to sleep? Well, who’s crying all night? Who does she have to sit up and rock when she could be sleeping?
A WRITING PROMPT BASED ON MY POST: Write about a character who needs to sleep but can’t.