In the darkness of a winter's night, I lay in bed, fast asleep. A sudden movement, and I am startled awake. My wife is beside me. She kicks the covers, then is still for a moment. But in a sudden thrashing, she turns and spins. In the gloom I can see her eyes. She's staring at the ceiling.
"Hey, what's up?"
"I need to remember to wash my red blouse." A sudden realization. I know what's happening. "Don't let me forget to write a note to Ryan's teacher. And I should clean the oven."
She can't sleep, she's thinking of all the things to be done. I'd better handle this quick, before she has me up helping her with chores in the middle of the night.
"Honey, go to sleep."
She turns a mischievous grin to me, a twinkle in her eye. What does she have in mind now? What does she want me to do to help her sleep?
"Honey?" she purrs, "Could you...would you mind..."
"Yes?" I ask, a bit wary.
"Could you tell me about the...dark ages?"
I sigh, and begin.
"The dark ages refers to the general breakdown of western European society after the fall of the western half of the Roman Empire."
She smiles and closes her eyes. I continue.
"It was marked by a constant state of war and complete social unrest. The main problem was a lack of enforcement of any laws that would offer protection to people. Whatever local ruler took control of any region had near total autonomy. Outlaws roamed at will and people had no government to look to for protection. They had to band together, wall themselves in."
She relaxes, I see her tension ease.
"The dark ages lasted for around 500 years, until the feudal age evolved around 1000 A.D., giving people a sense of order."
I hear her gently breathing. She's asleep. I have given her my greatest gift, my one, true talent. I have bored her to sleep.