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    "I used to dream I was drowning or being smothered because I had sleep apnea. I almost never have drowning dreams since I got a CPAP. Except after Glenn shot my Kayak and someone dragged us into the water inside our tent," Dana said.


    *
  • *

    “Being stuck in a tent under water would really freak me out,” Garrett said.

    “It was pretty scary,” Dana agreed. “I didn't like it one bit. And it was a lot like sleep apnea.”

    *
  • *

    "Hmm, sleep apnea . . ." Garrett said. He sounded doubtful.

    "Did Rheta ever tell you that you snored?"

    "Sure, doesn't everyone?"

    "Did she ever say you snorted or stopped breathing . . .?"

    "Yeah, but . . . "

    "It's your life. I don’t want to be pushy or obnoxious. But be aware that sleep apnea causes heart damage and memory loss, which can be permanent, and hosts of other problems. Like daytime fatigue, but never mind."

    Dana went back to taking notes on the terns and their behavior, calls, flight patterns, responses to sea gulls, and so on. Garrett leaned against the wall of the crevice and nodded out. After about ten minutes, she heard him stop breathing, then gasp for breath.

    She woke him. “Do you always fall asleep that easily?”


    *
  • *

    “Yeah, I’m always really tired.”

    "Were you dreaming about drowning?"

    "Yeah," he answered, looking a little sheepish. "How did you know?"

    "You stopped breathing. You know, sleep apnea can kill you. It's sort of like drowning. You can't get any air. You might consider seeing a doctor. Most people with sleep apnea are fat--overweight, that is. But you're not. Maybe you have some kind of obstruction that could be removed."

    Garrett stared out to sea. He said nothing for a long time.

    Then he said, "Billy Owens drowned. He did not have sleep apnea."


    *
  • *

    "You're not Billy Owens. And you're not 18 or 19."

    "Seventeen," Garrett said. "He was only seventeen when he died."

    Garrett reached into the pocket of his Carharrdt shirt, a shirt that seemed overly warm for the heat of the day and was covered with grease, slime, fish scales and other unidentifiable smudges. He took out a worn leather folder, opened it, and pulled out a tattered piece of paper, which he slowly unfolded and held out to Dana.

    Dana set down her recorder, her notebook, and her Psion computer on a ledge that jutted into the crevice between them, just the right size to hold her research tools. She took the paper from Garrett and studied it.

    The picture showed a boy in a tree. It was a painting, or rather, a color photocopy of a painting, or a color photocopy of a photograph of a painting, Dana wasn't sure.

    "Ummm . . . Is this Billy Owens?" Dana asked.

    *
  • *


    "Billy was my best friend for several years. When Harlan moved out, we moved into Harlan's family's house, right next door to Billy Owens.

    “After my father died, my mother remarried. My stepfather was really nice at first. We liked him a lot. He seemed to like us. We lived in a beautiful stone house in Bennington, Vermont, a house that people called ‘the castle.’ For a little while, it was like heaven, almost, like dream come true.

    "But my stepfather, who was the superintendent of schools there, had an affair with his secretary, and got caught having sex with her in his office. He lost his job and my Mother’s trust for a few years."

    "A few years? Your Mom took him back after that? I wouldn't have."


         *            *            *            *  
  • *     *     *


    I (Mary) have sleep apnea and insomnia. Before I got my CPAP, I had dreams of drowning regularly.

    *

    The boy who modeled for this painting was VERY HIGH in a tree. His name was Asher. We met him on a mountain in Maine. My poor painting does not do him justice.

    *
  • * HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! *
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