The Lightbender sipped. The chamomile tea bag had been left for hours, and now the tea was cold and bitter. He wrinkled his nose. The china cup tinked as he set it back on the bedside table. Leaning back on the soft pillows, he sighed.
The house was quiet. Autumn had just started, and if the Lightbender strained to listen, he could hear the soft crinkling of leaves outside the window.
He looked down at the book in his hands. As much as he liked reading Latin, it wasn't helping with his current problem. He put the book down on the bed and rubbed his eyes.
"Oh, heavens. What time is it?" He groaned.
Reading at night was not a good way to fall asleep. In fact, he was wide awake. Though, his eyes were tired. That was the funny thing about insomnia. No matter how physically sore your eyes could be, you just can't fall asleep.
The Lightbender blinked blearily around the wide bedroom. The warm yellow light from his lamp illuminated soft corners of the cluttered space, with one part of the wall covered in floor to ceiling windows facing the bed. A mahogany bookshelf hugged the room, curving from one side of the entrance to the bed. It was jam packed with manuscripts and moth bitten books. Leather bound volumes and scripts took up every bit of space.
Chintzy was sleeping soundly on her perch, totally undisturbed by the Lightbender's insomnia. He watched as her feathers rose and fell.
He glanced at the clock on his bedside table. 2:37 AM. The red dots gleamed like red eyes at the Lightbender. He groaned and threw off his duvet, reaching for his cup. Even with the thermostat on, the house was chilly at night. He could feel the cold on his legs. And he was wearing pants.
He hugged the bathrobe around him tighter and slid into some slippers.
The house had always smelt of cedar and pine. Sometimes the cleaning people that came once a month would freshen up the place, and they brought along the scent of cleaning products with them. But the wood of the house always outlived them.
The Lightbender made his way down the grand spiral staircase, gazing out the glass wall in the living room as he did so. The city was dark, peppered with tiny streetlights and car lights moving in the distance. The dark purple carpet smoothed under his black slippers, and eventually he arrived at the entrance of the kitchen.
He never cooks. Although he invested into a room designed specifically for the sake of it. During the day, sunlight would infiltrate through the skylight to light up the kitchen, perfect for anyone down to cooking. But unfortunately, the Lightbender was a poor cook, so he had to invite a chef to cook meals. Sometimes even take out.
He shuffled to the kettle on the stove and turned the switch. Blue flames lit up in an instance, slowly warming up the leftover water. As the Lightbender waited, he looked up to the skylight. The weather forecast said tonight was due for a full moon, but the bright spot in the night sky was obscured by clouds. The moon was nothing more than a ghost smudge.
The Lightbender yawned. He waited for the kettle to whistle, then picked it up. Steam rose from his cup, dancing in the air and shifting as he picked it up from the counter.
As he dragged his feet through the hallway, he paused. He looked at the photos on the walls. Pictures of places the Lightbender had ever been to hung on the walls of the hallway. Every single one of them was put in a frame. Oval, rectangular, square. Most of the pictures were in black and white, taken with an old fashioned camera gifted from a friend. She was a wonderful friend. They had been close, once. But-
The Lightbender shook himself out of it. Now is not the time for regretting. He sipped his tea as he looked at the pictures. Most of them showed landscapes. Eswatini, Mongolia, Andorra. The list goes on. He'd rarely taken photos of himself, but there were a few with him inside, joined with friends. But the photos weren't the part of the hallway that made guests curious.
On one side of the hallway, was a door.
It had no unique shape, just a rectangular door tall enough for anyone to pass through. However, unlike all the other heartwood doors in the house, this one was painted. The colour was a rich teal, the doorknob a glimmering gold.
The Lightbender had it specially painted when he adopted his ward. He worried that he might get lost, especially in this maze of a house. So he got it painted his favourite colour. It wasn't hard to miss, and it was right beside the Lightbender's room too.
The doorknob made no sound as the Lightbender twisted it. Slowly, he peeked into one of the other many, many rooms in the house. The celestial night lights on the ceiling danced lazily across the room, lulling the sleeper inside to slumber.
The room was spacious, with a large bay window overlooking the forest behind the house. On one side of the room was a bed. The new bed frame reflected the light outside, even in the dark. A head of mousy brown hair was poking out of the duvet. With every breath, the duvet rose and fell. The Lightbender smiled. He closed the door and went back to his room.
The clock read 2:45 AM. As he sipped his freshly made tea, he began to read the book he'd abandoned earlier. Soon, the blanket began to feel warm again, and the book's text swam in his vision. The Lightbender breathed a sigh of relief. He closed his book and placed it onto the bedside table, reaching for the lamp light.
The Lightbender jerked awake. Lightning flashed across the room, a split splatter of white. The soft pitter-patter of rain outside his window told him enough. He realised why he couldn't see the moon tonight.
He glanced at the clock. 2:48 AM. At least he was sleepy this time. As he shifted comfortably into his duvet, he heard a voice.
"Are you asleep?"
The Lightbender looked down to see Micah standing beside the bed. He was clutching his fish plush toy close to his chest, and he had tear streaks running down his cheeks.
"Oh dear, oh dear," the Lightbender dropped his duvet and reached over to pick him up, "were you woken up by the thunder?"
Micah sniffled, "Yeah."
The Lightbender gently wiped Micah's puffy eyes. His pyjamas were crumpled from tossing and turning.
"I got scared." Micah hugged him tightly and buried his face in the front of his bathrobe. The Lightbender hugged him back, gently caressing his head and patting his back. He was so small. Micah barely reached his waist when they stood.
"Would you like to sleep with me here tonight?"
Micah looked up, "I can?"
"Of course," the Lightbender adjusted the duvet around them.
They settled down, Micah curling beside him. This time, the Lightbender needn't worry about not falling asleep. They were both asleep long before the rain stopped. The cup of tea laid forgotten on the bedside table, the remaining steam curling in the darkness.