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News & Features » April 2020 » “Finally Sleep” by Gissel Reynoso

“Finally Sleep” by Gissel Reynoso

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.

This week, an overworked student gets a eerie sensation at work . . . 

Finally Sleep
by Gissel Reynoso
Polk County, Florida

“Ready to go?” the store manager asks me.

I respond almost too excitedly: “Most definitely, I am exhausted.” 

To say I am exhausted is an understatement. I don’t remember the last time I got a full night’s sleep. It is 11:37 at night and I still have to drive home and finish a paper that I have due tomorrow morning. I tell myself that next semester will be easy. Next semester I won’t be taking five classes. Next semester I’ll make sure to limit my availability at work to ensure I have enough time to do homework and get some actual sleep. I am driving down Spirit Lake Road and I must tell myself to stay awake, I’ll just drink some coffee when I get home. Now getting to the light, I feel myself dozing off, and then all of a sudden I jerk awake. 

My phone is ringing; I answer it. “Hello.”

“Hey, Jennifer, this is Ms. Reynolds, you forgot your purse.” Thats weird. I never forget my purse, I think to myself, how could I forget my purse? It’s the one thing that holds my car keys and my phone. Yet I have both here with me

“Oh okay, thank you, I hadn’t noticed. I will head back right now.”

As I drive into the store parking lot, I realize how peaceful yet tired it looks. During store hours the parking lot is as hectic as the store is inside during a rush; however, as I examine it I feel a small pit of sadness build up in me. The state of the parking lot right now reminds me a lot of how I feel: empty, run down, and abandoned. With the small cracks and holes representing my weight loss and the bags under my eyes. 

I get out of my car and walk up to the sliding doors that are now locked, no longer opening with that same familiar whoosh sound. 

I knock. No one answers. I knock again, this time louder. Again no response or movement. I walk around to the back of the store knowing that tonight we would be getting a new shipment of produce, meaning the back doors are open. 

I get around to the back, and just as I thought, the back door is still open. I walk in and automatically I am hit with silence. This silence scares me. Even at night after we close, there is never silence.

During the day, the store is always filled with the chaos of different noises. The rhythmic beep from the register as the cashier scans groceries. The restless swishing noise of the plastic bags being opened and filled up. The constant calls to the deli on the intercom: “Deli, you have a call on line 100. Deli, you have a call on line 100.” Throughout all of this is the cheery playlist that plays on repeat throughout the day.

At night, the rhythm of the store does not stop but instead changes. After the store closes the chaotic and busy noises transform into calm and slow ones. The store is now filled with the soft whirring of the floor-care machines, followed by the squeak of the janitor’s shoes as they walk over the now clean and wet floors. In the back are the dishes and equipment being clinked together by the people in the deli as they clean up. Throughout the isles are the quiet whispers of the grocery clerks as they stock and block the products. Right now the store is silent, no clinking dishes, no whirring, no whispers. I continue to walk,  making my way from the back of the store to the front and still no one.

“Hello! Ms. Parker? I am here.” No reply.

I decide to go upstairs to the break room. Maybe they are all up there; maybe my purse is up there. As I am walking up the stairs I feel overwhelmed and afraid. All of a sudden, everything turns black. I feel my body drop with this intense weight pulling it down. The stillness is now broken by the sound of glass shattering and horns honking. 

And then, then there is nothing. Only darkness and silence. Almost as if I am finally sleeping. 

The next day:

“Did you hear what happened last night?”

“No, what?”

“Jennifer passed away”

“Oh my lord, what do you mean?”

“She fell asleep at the wheel, running a red light and going straight into oncoming traffic.”


GISSEL REYNOSO will soon be a 2020 High School Graduate, graduating with not only her High School Diploma but her Associate’s Degree, which is aimed more towards engineering. She has taken up writing as a hobby in hopes of growing a fondness for writing. She is also active in her community as an Explorer for her local Sheriff’s Office. “Finally Sleep” will be Gissel’s first written work to become public. However, even though she is pursuing a career in mechanical engineering, she hopes to continue writing strengthening her skills and working in different genres, such as romance and crime fiction.




Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Apr 27, 2020

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder, Original Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,