It’s the lack of sleep that kills her during business trips.
It’s not the amount of work. It’s not even the time change, with he and she each moving their bedtimes and alarm clocks to make sure they get just ten minutes to see or hear each other on video conferencing each day. It’s that she can’t fall asleep without him there.
She tries to trick herself — she leaves her clothes and the light on, lies down on top of the covers, because then it’s not sleep, it’s just a nap, it doesn’t count. She sets up her pillows on the couch, on an armchair with her legs hanging half off an ottoman. When it’s not a bed, she thinks, maybe she won’t feel so lonely.
But things get worse as the trip drags on. Her body anticipates her deceptions, is no longer fooled. She gives up on “trying” to sleep, and just stays awake until her body can’t take it any more and crashes in place: induced narcolepsy. But then she adjusts again, cruising towards true insomnia, until everything aches her eyes like looking too long at a computer, even when she's outside and a screen is nowhere to be found. Adding or cutting back on caffeine doesn’t help. Exercise doesn’t help. She won’t take sleeping pills. The only good nights are the ones where they can leave the line open, when they find that window of time where the sky is dark in both his part of the world and hers, and she can fall asleep next to the phone, listening to him breathe.
And this isn’t even half the story. He’s the one on the road, not her.