Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bittersweet Beds

                Allen hated to get out of bed. His alarms had been silenced over and over as he hit the snooze button every nine minutes from six until eight thirty. The very idea of tossing the covers off and getting cleaned up; facing the day was nearly more than he could possibly bear. But he’d do it. He was expected to do it. He knew he had responsibilities he had to attend. He couldn’t just cocoon himself in the silks of his sheets and pray the day away. He had to face it. He had to do it.

                Carmen struggled to get out of her bed. Her five thirty wake up time seemed to come earlier and earlier which each morning.  She did it though. She dragged herself from her bed and started towards the kitchen to get her bowl of raisin bran and a cup of coffee. The same bowl. The same mug. The same spoon. Washed after each use and put carefully in the strainer to dry; ready for use the next morning, and the next.  She felt the weight of it all, but pressed on because she had to. There was no choice. It was what had to be done.

                Ethan made his bed. He tucked in the corners of the sheets. He fluffed his pillows and placed them against the ornate headboard. He’d been dressed since six thirty even though he didn’t have to leave for work until seven thirty. He was whistling along to his “Morning Jam” satellite radio station. He smiled at his reflection in the mirror. He combed his hair. He thought he might need a haircut over the weekend but he wasn’t sure he’d have time. He was taking salsa lessons, going kayaking, going to a gallery opening and cooking a dinner for five after their trip to see the symphony in the park. He figured he could just get up a little earlier on Saturday and get to the barbershop right as it opened. No big deal. It was easy to do.

                Colleen didn’t get out of bed. The alarm clock continued to buzz as she slept. She was content in her dreams of luxury apartment living complete with valets and penthouse pool parties and never ending cocktails. The noise of the alarm just became part of the EDM soundtrack of her dream.  It was so much better than her job at the coffee shop where she barely made enough to afford her studio apartment with the fold out sofa bed.  She had a college degree in Greek Philosophy but she wished she’d learned a trade like a plumber or an HV/AC repair person. Her dream went on and she dove into a crystal infinity pool. It’s what she wanted to do.

                Larry mashed his bed of newspapers together under his head.  The street noise had kept him up all night. The rain had come in the morning and he had gotten soaked. He could smell his own mustiness mixed with his body odor and he felt shame. He’d been someone once. A local weatherman, sometimes sports. Always ready to jump on whatever assignment he could. Until he started the cocaine, then the crack, then became a junkie no one would bother to help. He knew he should get cleaned up. He knew his redemption story was just around the corner. He just had to score first. He had to do it.

                Stevie sat up from the metal bed in the holding cell. He rubbed the sore spot on his head. He didn’t do anything. He was just minding his own business. He was just walking home from his sister’s place when the cops rolled up on him. They said he fit the description of the guy they were looking for. Stevie didn’t resist. They said he resisted though and they threw him to the sidewalk and cut his forehead. So he kicked one of them in the nuts. So they threw him in this cell, onto this metal sheet they called a bed. It’s what they did.

                Jimmy sat on the edge of his bed. He stared at his sleeping wife as she snored lightly. The sun was coming up and was dappling her graying hair with morning sunbeams. Jimmy held his service revolver in his hands. He felt its weight. It was so heavy. He wasn’t sure he could holster it ever again. He wasn’t sure why his wife was so mad at him. Why they fought so much last night. She was going to leave him. He didn’t want that to happen. He wanted to keep her here. He wanted to be together forever. It’s what he would do.

                Sandra got the kids out of bed. She made them breakfast. She stopped them from fighting over the iPad. She got them dressed. She got them out the door to school. She got to the store. She bought the household provisions. She restocked the pantry. She cleaned up after breakfast. She cleaned the bathroom. She did the laundry. She put it all away. She paid bills online. She dusted the dining room after noticing just a small spot she must have missed yesterday when she dusted. She vacuumed. She forgot to eat lunch. She picked the kids up from school. She took one to soccer, the other to ballet, the other to swimming. She looked in the mirror for the first time in three days. She didn’t recognize herself. It’s just what she did.

             The bittersweet beds, resting in silence, saying nothing of the lives they lure into their embrace.

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