Foreshadowing and Analysis
By Mara Geißen and Laura Himmelmann
Sleepless by Jay Kristoff, is a short Australian horror story and part of the book Slasher Girls & Monster Boys, released in 2015. The plot revolves around a man who is in a six-month chat relationship with a young girl. Leading up to the point where they will meet for the first time in real life.
The story starts off quite innocent, with chat history being written out and filling the pages. It carries an unsettling note that grows more suffocating with every passing dialogue. We as the reader follow Justin’s POV and learn that he lives alone with his mother. A woman who had an accident and has been bedbound ever since. His only escape are the daily chats with coffeegirl, her real name is not being revealed until the very end.
The Relationship to his Mother
For a few pages we are being led on by the weird atmosphere. If we pay attention, the foreshadowing is placed perfectly and sets an eerie feeling that drags on throughout the story. Justin describes his mother as sickly, her skin is tight on her bones, her eyes a pale blue, soulless almost. There are tons of scented candles placed around her bed, a mosquito net covering it so she is shielded. While it seems caring, it creates questions as well. If Justin is 17, why is his mother describes as old and fragile, unable to do anything alone?
Surely one could track it back to the apparent accident that took place. However it does not explain the number of candles and the ever-appearing perfect interruption whenever Justin is chatting. As well as her endless talks about how every girl he has been with has been terrible and that she is the only woman that should matter. It mirrors possessive behavior. What makes it weird though is, that every time we experience a conversation between them two, she does not say anything new, it is always the same.
Sentences that focus on his chats, God, and Jesus. A repetitive order that contradicts a natural, changing conversation one would have with their mother every new day. To give it an even more unsettling note, we recall the conversation Justin has with his mom, after he brought her out onto the terrace to let her watch the sunset. She does not even react to it, but cries about not wanting to be here, wanting to be gone, dead and free.
Turning to the girl Justin has been dating online for 6 months. The girl, called 2muchc0ff33_grrl in the online chat, is 16 years old and a normal teenager, upset about homework and her mother. Her name as well as the title of the story indicate the theme of insomnia. Coffeegirl drinks too much coffee because of nightmares. She opens up to Justin and explains that she has difficulties sleeping because of voices that keep telling her sad things that make her cry and get mad. Even when she is awake, she still has the feeling that voices are there.
Moreover, it is also worth mentioning that during one of their conversations, Coffeegirl and Justin talk about a case of a serial killer. She reports that belongings of five girls he murdered, were found in the serial killer’s house and that he has been missing for 12 days. Justin seems relatively uninterested in the subject and only makes statements about how many serial killers keep trophies of their victims.
The topics seem to be discussed relatively casually. Just normal chats between two teenagers talking about their problems, news and interests. But as a reader, one is aware that nothing is ever mentioned without greater meaning behind it.
The story initially focuses on a meeting between Coffeegirl and Justin. At their first meeting, however, Justin does not introduce himself as wolfboy_97, but pretends to be his dad. Here we discover what the reader may have already guessed. Justin is not 17 years old and not a teenager, but a grown man. During the meeting between Coffeegirl and Justin, he takes the reader back in time. He tells of his former girlfriends, Alice, who was the first and he made a mess of, Lucy, who had a bad mouth, and Sally, who woke up too early.
All the girls are not good enough, so there is only one polished bone, one silver dumbbell and one retainer left, and the ground owns the rest. To top it off, Coffeegirl is witnessing Justin talking to his mom and the guesses are being revealed as true. She has been dead for a long time, placed on the bed to keep Justin sane. By now the reader knows. Justin is the serial killer. Coffeegirl is his next victim. The conversation about the serial killer was not a coincidence. It was a foreshadowing for the reader, for us.