Dating : The Unravelling

h2>Dating : The Unravelling

edh lamport

Sometimes, you get really, really tired…

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

At 11:36 pm on Wednesday, you finally get tired of staring at the ceiling in the half-darkness from the bathroom light and put on a movie. The movie is Tinker-Tailor-Soldier-Spy, which you happen to adore even though you have not watched it all the way through. Sometimes you come across a part you have never seen before, and the movie gains a little depth. Other times you seem to be watching the same scenes over and over again, and it lulls you, always, into a place where your brain shuts off and you can go to sleep. Like now.

At 2:43 am on Thursday, Cat begins his crusade for your wakefulness. The vanquishing of your sleep is one of his primary objectives. When you are tired, you make poor decisions regarding his food, and he grows fat on the results. He leaps on top of the game console and smacks the button with his paw, turning it on. Tinker-Tailor resumes directly behind him at the point where you began watching through your eyelids, and a burning owl flies around a classroom, keening his sad and frightened cry. Cat purrs at you from across the room, pleased with himself, and proudly fluffs up his shadowy double coat as he resettles all his paws and curls his tail around his toes, making the console creak. You put the pillow on your face and pretend to be dead. He doesn’t believe you.

At the click of 3:01, Cat lies down on the phone and manages to locate a dial tone, obscured by stripey fur and loud rumbling noises. You reach out to pull the phone from underneath his not-insubstantial corpulescence, and he bites the offending hand, arm, and fingers, purring all the while. You are tempted to try to poke the buttons through the rolls of feline belly fat, but you like your fingers too much. It is his phone. He wins.

When 3:04 crosses the threshold of the Universe, the handset erupts in a cacophony of loud screechy beeping noises. Cat leaps straight up in the air and, unable to defy gravity, lands squarely on your stomach. He lurches back and forth trying to find proper footing while your innards protest in a most painful and disconcerting manner. You finally catch your breath and roll over into the recovery position, dumping him off the side of the bed. Indignant, he stalks away.

3:19: Ah. So that’s where that empty water bottle disappeared to. His determination is astounding. Crunch crunch crunch crunkle crunkle crunkle. You would try to reach down and remove it from him, but first, he has teeth, and second, he has claws, and third, he will just drag it farther under the bed to keep it away from you and make his point, which is that you are required to be awake now.

By 3:21, you are firmly entrenched in Tinker-Tailor, and Cat is lying on the bed next to your legs, nibbling on your kneecap. Every time you shift and move away, he spreads out farther, until he is occupying more of the bed than you are. At some point he has turned from an ordinary Cat into a Small House-Tiger. At least he purrs. His fur sticks to your leg because the ambient temperature is 87 degrees Fahrenheit. He does not like it and lets you know. You read subtitles sideways on your shrinking mattress and try to remember which way 5/9 is applied to temperatures to make Celsius happen, because it will be cooler. Your brain melts at the effort, leaking out your ears, and you panic before you realize it is just sweat, rolling down your neck, and the melting sensation is the side-effect of an errant wisp of dream. The adrenaline works like high-test gasoline and all your gears start firing, although several cylinders feel awkward and sluggish. You wonder if it is too early for coffee.

It is 3:47 am. If you move very slowly, then by the time the coffee is ready, it will be after 4 o’clock. You decide to ponder this for a while and resume picking at threads of film.

4:12: Cat has an Opinion. He says it is Hot. You would disagree, but your brain is melted. He pats the sweat on your face with his paw, forcing you at last to acknowledge that awake is the order of the moment. You endeavor not to trip over him as you meander down the hallway to make coffee, but he is not making it easy, what with all the stopping and starting and the turning his little face back over his shoulder to close his eyes and mrrp at you with love.

4:26: You turn the coffee maker off and wait for the empty pot to cool. You fill it with cold water to the proper line and pour it into the coffee maker without spilling too much of it on the counter. You turn the coffee maker on for a second try. You wonder if there is anything left in the secret cookie stash and try not to fall asleep while eating them.

4:38: You talk to Cat, who is helping. You tell him, “No.” “My legs are not chicken.” “Stop biting me.” “It’s not time for breakfast.” You ponder variations so you don’t sound boring, and realize the coffee is ready. You pour a cup while he gnaws on your ankle. You realize that you have somehow put three giant spoonfuls of sugar in the bottom of your cup and overpoured the half-and-half because there is a disturbance in the Youniverse. You wonder what it is.

4:49: You decide it is close enough to the right time to feed Cat without resetting his perception of Proper Breakfast Hour. He attacks the food with gusto, and, suddenly feeling as though you have disappeared from existence, you return to bed. You did not pause the movie and it is in the middle of a scene that is a complete mystery to you. You try to roll it back but somehow end up at the beginning. You sit down to watch and realize to your complete annoyance that you have memorized the blocking and script from the first twenty minutes, which means you can’t watch it because it will start doing strange loops and twists and change colors at inappropriate moments. It will also no longer put you to sleep. You turn off the movie and reach for your tablet.

5:13: The tablet demands coffee before it will function properly. You reach for your cup to oblige it by spilling a sip across the little screen, but your cup has dematerialized. You remember pouring one. You wonder where it is and decide to find it, leaving the tablet to collect its wits and straighten out its subroutines so it can properly face the world.

5:15: You find the cup on the kitchen counter, exactly where you left it. There is a spoon nearby, and an open half-and-half container. You put in your sugar, two large spoonfuls, because it is already lightened. You take a sip and double-check the size of the spoon. If you add a potato to something that is cooking, it will extract extra salt. You wonder if there is anything you can add to extract extra sugar. You take several gulps and add more coffee. That helps.

5:18: Something is happening right now, but you have no idea what. You shake it off and go back to your coffee.

5:32: You wake up when your head bounces off the wall and you spill coffee all over your bed and lap. You wonder where is Cat. He should be here for this. You could use him as a mop.

5:55: You think it is funny how long childhood superstitions persevere as you reflexively make a wish. You wish Cat would let you sleep, even though you would prefer to win the lottery. Speaking of Cat, where did he go?

5:56: You know the alarm clock is going to go off in five minutes. There are children in the world who need you to be coherent. The ones who do not need you to be coherent will try to slip things past you, like handing you your wallet and asking you for money. You struggle up off of the bed and head back to the coffee machine.

6:02: Little’s face is looking up at you expectantly. You know that she has just asked you a question, but you can not quite grasp what it was. It is the sixth question you have been asked so far. You wonder if there is an 800-number to fix this problem. You suppose there must be. There is an 800-number for everything. One year when the children were small and screeching, you called information and asked for Santa Claus. To your complete surprise, you got a number at the North Pole. You laugh while you shake the flaming toaster over the sink to release blackened and burning breadcrumbs. Your children look at you strangely and whisper among themselves. You don’t care. You can’t stop laughing. You suddenly realize that the youngest no longer believes in the magic of Santa and burst into tears because the power of Santa is now gone, and you are alone in the Enforcement Department, trying to keep Order where Chaos Reigns Supreme. Perhaps you need more coffee.

6:15: Dad comes home from work and the world erupts. The Bigs are shouting and complaining, Little is asking for attention. Cat is … Missing. You want to learn that trick.

6:27: Silence. Pin dropping. Ping-tink-plink-blip-dink-bip-dap-op. You know you heard it. Mesmerized, you stand at the sink and stare out the kitchen window and take a sip of your coffee, which isn’t, because you were washing the dishes and you are really drinking from an empty cup. It smells like dish soap. You rinse it again.

6:31: Teenager #1 leaves for school. There is some kind of lament issuing from his mouth at low volume as he wanders through the kitchen and out the door. Or maybe he is singing? He pauses at the door and waves. You blow him a kiss and try to remember what he is wearing after the door closes behind him. You are almost sure it was clothing.

6:46: You remind Teenager #2 of the time. Her clothes are strewn around her, as though her cabinet is Mount Vesuvius and her bed is Pompeii. You bite the inside of your cheek to keep from laughing again. She looks up to see your face with your cheeks sucked in and decides you’re angry at her. Yay.

6:48: You wonder where Cat is. He can’t be a figment of your imagination, because his food is on the floor in the kitchen, right at the point of last contact. You sit on a stool and watch for a while to see if he materializes.

7:03: Little would like oatmeal. You make oatmeal. Apparently this was the question from earlier that you could not understand. Oops.

7:13: Something, something, some other something, cuteness, and Little is dressed. You send her off to brush her teeth and use the bathroom. She asks if she can finish eating breakfast first. Well, of course she can. That would make more sense, wouldn’t it.

7:24: Teenager #2 asks for socks, because all sixty of hers are missing. You don’t own any socks and cannot help her. Mother of the Year Award Officially Revoked. Again.

7:39: You find Little sitting with Dad who is playing a video game. You send her off to brush her teeth, etc. You curl up on the bed and pull a blanket over your head. The darkness is comforting.

7:70: Teenager calls out goodbye and leaves for school. Little crawls across you to sit and resume watching Dad’s game. Her knees and elbows are almost as sharp and pointy as the cat’s claws. Speaking of Cat, you wonder again where he is.

7:92–¾: Your husband is poking you to tell you Little needs her shoes and can’t find them. He asks if you want him to take her to school. The ants in your head insist on marching and raise you back up into the light. No, no, of course not, you tell him, you just worked twelve hours, no, no. The room tilts and wobbles, but it’s okay, because you are used to it.

8003: You guide Little down the street to the corner and let the crossing guard escort you across the intersection. He says good morning. You say words in reply, but don’t know what they are. You hope they made sense, but doubt it. You and Little go to the entrance of the school, where you give her a hug and a kiss and realize she is not wearing her backpack. You take a minute to figure it out. The nice door lady suggests you go get it and bring it back while Little goes inside. This seems logical to you. You wonder if you can rent her for the day to take care of things like thinking.

8003.2: You enter the school and take the backpack to the office. They are happy to see you. You attempt conversation with your newfound adrenaline rush, but it is a bit like swimming in molasses and your tongue feels the size of Japan. They know you. They send you on your way.

8017: Cat is waiting for you at the door. He loves you. You pat him and stumble to the bed. Dad is snoring. Your pillow sings a happy song, and you lie down. After a few minutes, you locate the stream of coffee in your veins and find yourself coasting along on it. The nice, happy hum of the pillow starts to sound like a droning refrigerator. You get up before you start talking to the sleeping person next to you.

{x2 = −1}: You find yourself staring at the erratically flashing cursor that floats on your computer screen. You seem to have dropped and pulled a few crucial stitches between your brain and your fingers. You wonder what the words will say if you start typing and lift your hands to find out. There is a movement, out of the corner of your eye. It is Cat, asleep on the windowsill. You go wake him up.

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