When she “goes to sleep,” it simply means a process has begun. She clears her throat about thirty times, and tosses and turns on the pillow. She lifts her long hair up and shakes it out behind her, and then lies her head back down. She breathes slowly for a minute, and then raises her head and smooths out the pillow case. She shakes her hair and sets her cheek down on the pillow, carefully. More measured breathing. About five minutes goes by.
Then begins a violent fit of throat-clearing and head flipping. One side, then the other. Lie on right cheek, change to left. Clear throat. Lie on back. Sit up, turn over, smooth pillow. Lie back down, clear throat, pretend to be asleep. Get noticeably agitated if anybody in the room makes a sound.
She shouldn’t have sleepovers.
Clear throat, flip hair, right cheek on pillow. Rest five minutes. Flip over again, smooth hair out over shoulder, clear throat, pretend to sleep. Breathe evenly and carefully. She is fooling no one. She is clearly awake.
When she wakes up, her sweet face is creased, and she looks like she has slept deeply. But if anything unusual stirs in the night- an unseasonable breeze through the window, a creak in the overhead floorboards she’s not heard before, a visitor’s cough not carefully screened ahead of time- she will sit straight up in bed, eyes huge, mouth open in a silent scream.