It was a job. Sweep the sand across the land so that the little humans and animals could sleep. The night owls and other predators had the night to eat and feed. The humans had built light poles and other electrical gadgets so that they could see in the night, but every mortal in this world needed sleep except the Sandman.
He had lived for a millennium, making sure that all creatures had a chance at sleep. Of all the jobs this job was the most thankless. Children whined when they had to go to bed. Insomniacs cursed him when they couldn’t sleep. He never had a vacation or rest from his duties.
Around the world he went with this one job.
It was a strange night when he heard the small whimper, or thought he heard the small whimper of a baby. The whimper led him to a dumpster in the middle of the city. He put down his bag of sand, climbed into the rusted dumpster, and searched through the stink of garbage.
He found a small black garbage bag. When he tore it open there was a baby, blue in color, lying quietly in the bag. He could still hear the baby’s whimpers in his head. He placed his hand on the baby’s face, trying to feel for breath.
When he couldn’t feel the breath, he blew into the child’s mouth.
“The child is mine,” said a voice behind him. The Sandman ignored Death and continued to work on the baby, massaging its heart, throwing his magic into the little baby’s organs. Growing and coaxing, the baby changed color to a normal pink.
The Sandman turned and faced Death, “No, this little girl is mine.”
“What are you going to do with her? You know you can’t raise her.” Death almost looked interested as if he could with a skeletal face.
“I will take her to a hospital. They will find someone to raise her,” said the Sandman. Death nodded, yes, and pulled out the baby’s hourglass and turned it over.
The Sandman hadn’t told Death that this baby would one day be more than a child to him. She would grow to great strength and one day they would work together, bringing sleep to the world.
By Cyn Bagley, a microfiction from Smoke & Mirrors