I turn and hide from the light as it streaks through the curtain. I hear them but I pretend they aren’t there. Over to my left, through the closet, in the bathroom. My wife’s not there. She’s not looking at the mirror, comb in her hand, doing what she does daily. And my son is not there, talking or singing or watching his mother do the familiar ritual that combines with everything else she does or is to make her lovely.
I pull the spread over my head. I cannot breathe. I poke my nose through a partition and try to establish warmth because I’m cold even though it’s not cold. I hear the boy pattering about. He’s saying something. I don’t want to hear him. It’s too early for him to talk, and so much. He’s explaining something to his mother.
I glance at my wife. She doesn’t see me.
The boy is walking about the place. He pulls out something noisy, and I hear Dawn saying that it’s too early for that. Those are my words she’s borrowing, but I’m trying to fall back into a rest that is rejecting me. I can’t tell what she’s forbidding, and I can’t locate the dream or the sleep slipping away in the bright light.
My internal rule is to keep the house as quiet as possible during these parts of the day when the clock says morning but my body says no. Dawn is quiet too. She knows how to prepare, from start to finish, without disturbing me. It’s the boy who’s non-compliant.
On most days he follows my lead. He’ll sleep until that last moment when Dawn twinkles keys from the platter holding them, signalling to the kid that he must wake up and say goodbye. He may spend a moment with Dawn, being changed or sipping milk from a cup under her gaze. She’ll whisper things to him, before announcing something to me because she knows I’m awake but fighting it. She knows that her departure—the clinking of the keys, the whistling of a plastic bag or the crumpling of a paper one that keeps her lunch safe and near, the clicking of the lock—rouses me and sometimes him. If I have my way, all of that ends quickly and with me putting him and me back to bed. I can usually sleep another fifteen and wake up feeling like fifteen minutes was an hour. He may sleep longer, and I’ll walk through a part of my routine, forcing myself to wake up, to make tea, to pull out oatmeal or to cut fruit. I hardly even remember what sleeping in was. It’s a vague notion, somewhere still deep, going deeper, and I think I’ve almost relinquished the beautiful memory altogether.
Today I was up, made the bed, and skulked around. I groaned, the universal sign that I’m not really awake and that I’m not reliable for conversation. Dawn goodbyes to me and to the boy. She tells me that he needs to be changed. I tell her in my head that I can smell him, but these words take too long to come to me because they’re still underneath the spread, behind the light, looking for darkness and sleep.