By Alan Winnikoff
My wife wakes me most every night.
I crawl into bed with my book and read until, eyes fluttering, I turn off the light and wait for sleep to overtake me. Sometime later, I become aware of her presence, a murky figure sliding across a darkened floor, guided by the narrow beam of light from her phone.
Broad shouldered and wide-hipped, with thick, dark hair that falls past her shoulders. my wife, though well proportioned, is not a small person. I am reminded of this as she collapses next to me. Rippling waves, rolling tremors, travel toward me across the mattress. As she reaches for lotions, medications, a tissue, the phone slips from her hand. Untethered, the yellow light from the touchscreen wavers, dances across the ceiling, along the walls. Invariably, the light finds its way to my shuttered eyelids.
After a minute, she rises again, exhaling sharply with an annoyed huff. Hunched along the edge of the bed, she tugs at the covers, yanks at them with a resounding snap. Sheets and blankets drag across my face, my torso, leaving my skin exposed to the cool air. Sliding between the sheets again, she tosses pillows aside, emphatically, as if to ensure they will not find their way back to her later in the night. I sense them airborne, feather laden missiles, incoming, landing on me as I seek cover.
And then, at last, she settles. Soon I hear steady breathing, those familiar soft snores. I stare at the ceiling, open eyed, glancing anxiously toward the clock, once, twice, wondering how long I am to remain in this state of awake exhaustion.
Some hours later, the curtained windows begin to reveal themselves in gray silhouette. My wife’s phone comes to life, abruptly startling us both into consciousness. She takes her wakeup soundtrack seriously, putting considerable thought into programming it. It’s usually something from the Nineties; lately she’s been partial to The Lemonheads.
I hear her moan and stretch and she rolls toward me.
I feel the weight of her body against mine. Fingertips, hair, breasts press across my chest, warm and soft. As sleep slowly clears from my head, I am reminded of my great good fortune, how lucky I am that this woman has chosen to spend her life with me.
We steal these few moments before the day begins. Inhaling deeply, I take in her familiar scent. It is the smell of home.
* * *
Alan Winnikoff is the author of two novels, “The Weekend” (Books To Go Now, 2017) and “Not Sleeping” (Crowsnest Books, 2021).
Winnikoff lives in the Hudson Valley and is the owner of a public relations and social media firm in New York City.