I can hear myself snoring, but I don’t force myself to fully wake yet, I’m grateful the lights are still off. But then, like clockwork, she flicks that switch, the first noise of the morning. It always sounds incredibly high pitched; it hurts my ears. My eyelids disobey my inner protest and lift, exposing my pupils. The light flashes on, I’m blinded.
She shuffles around, turning on her laptop, turning on the TV. She drinks her coffee, offers me none. Her phone rings, she sighs, mutters something about it being too early, too soon. I agree! But, she ignores me, so I start contemplating the perfect hiding place. As devoted as I am to her, she’s never been one to give me a soft, loving, gentle wake up. I’m tired of it.
As she speaks, her tone is very patient, but she rolls her eyes, closes them, and sips her coffee. Steam rises off the top, the smell fills my nostrils. Enjoying this lone, accidental pleasantry, I close my eyes to give them a post-wake up rest. Mornings with her are always jarring.
I hear a swishing noise and know exactly what she’s done without looking. I know her better than I know myself, we’ve been together for years. She has run her fingers through her hair and flicked that thick mane over her shoulder. That’s what she does when she’s annoyed. Followed by a deep, slow breath.
Suddenly, I realize her hair was shining and straight. She’s been up a while, early enough to wash, dry and straighten. I didn’t notice if she had on eyeliner, or how much. That’s how I can gauge whether she’s half-cocked. If she’s actually wearing lipstick, it’s definitely all over for me. She’s heading into battle. I need assume she’s ready to go, despite her mutterings.
I’ve thought about doing it, constantly, but I haven’t had the guts to jump yet. This time it’s different. For a while now, it’s been cold outside, far below freezing. The heater broke and the repairman had to wait on a part, so she decided to take advantage and visit her sister. It made for long, quiet, lonely days and nights that I’d finally adjusted to when she returned. Full speed ahead.
She ruffles through papers, she is fishing for something. If she doesn’t find it, she’ll turn to me, such is her routine. Where to hide, where to hide? I question. And then, boom. I’ve got it. I force my eyes open once again, decidedly unwilling to rock with her one final time. So, I roll.
I shake my body until I start to move. Then, with a little huffing and puffing, I sway side to side, attempting to build enough momentum to scoot quickly. I feel my body waking, heating itself. Satisfied that I’m ready, I hurl myself over the edge and barrel toward the ground. I hit it running and fly, fast. Desperation has overcome me, I must escape. She flinches, but can’t engage the pursuit because she’s still on her call. A lucky break, no doubt, but regardless, my adrenaline rises, and I start to sweat. Sweat is nothing new, but mine leaves a trail.
I keep moving, racing around corners, dodging obstacles, until my secret hiding place is in sight. I hear her hang up the phone and lurch out of her chair. Now she’s hot on my heels. Only a couple more feet. She closes in, but she’s too late. I reach my hiding place and tuck myself away. Shocked that I made it, I need to pause, so I take in my new surroundings.
To my surprise, I immediately discover I’m not alone. I’m in the company of friends, some old, some new, each one she assumed lost. They greet me warmly for a second, then frantically hush. My friend who worked a Breast Cancer Awareness conference, takes hold of me, tugging me farther into our hiding place. Stupidly unaware of what is causing their sudden fear, I become alarmed, confused. I want to ask questions, but they keep me silent. I thought I was home-free.
Then I hear it. Her fingers, clawing at the only opening. The tips appear, I notice she got a manicure this weekend, light grey. She tries to force them in, but her fingers, that I always considered thin and elegant, are too fat for this tiny crack.
“Damn it,” she mutters, giving up. Her fingers disappear. Soon I can hear them punching the keys on her phone.
“Marjie,” she says. “It happened again. When you have a chance, will you please – wait, what? I’m really sorry but they keep rolling under my desk, must be these damn earthquakes. It’s bolted to the ground. I’d hate to call maintenance to retrieve pens. Please just order me more. Thank you.”
At least her hands were always warm and soft, I think.