From The “True Story” Files

The Next Family

By: Ann Brown

THIS MORNING, 6AM

Me (waking up and talking to Robin, still asleep next to me): Are you up? Did you hear your alarm?

Robin: (silence)

Me: Robin! Your alarm is blasting! Can you hear it? Turn it off.

Robin: (silence)

Me: Goddammit, Robin. Turn off your fucking alarm.

Of course, he doesn’t. So I reach behind the bed and yank the cord out of the wall. I yank it by the cord which deeply upsets Robin the electrician but I am trying to make a point. The alarm stops.

Robin says nothing. Oh, so that’s how he wants to play it? Fine.

I roll over and pull up the covers. If Robin wants to oversleep and be late for work, fine with me. He only has himself to blame. Good night. I am on summer vacation.

I get into my favorite comfortable sleeping position and try to revisit the dream I was having. All I can retrieve, however, is  an image of carrot cake. Was I dreaming about carrot cake? Again? Note to self: what is wrong with me?

Fuck. I can’t get back to sleep. If Robin is late for work, it will affect ME because I need his paycheck. Fuck, fuck, fuck my life.

I get out of bed with an audible sigh, making as much commotion as possible. I mutter a few words like, “lazy” and “why should I have to get up? I am on summer vacation” and “guess there’s no time for a morning BJ now”, which, even in his silence I can hear Robin snorting at my transparent threat. That was never in the cards.

As I sit on the toilet, I think to myself, “maybe I will be a better person today.”

I often have these kinds of thoughts during my morning pee. It is my most spiritually open time. I try to make some sort of positive declaration for the day when I pee. You know, like, “I will not flush the wipes down the toilet even though they say ‘flushable’ right on the box”, or “I will not use Robin’s razor on the parts of my body that I cannot see.”

But this morning I have a chance to be a nice person. Instead of being all bitchy at Robin for ignoring the alarm, I have a chance to be loving, gentle, a soft place – as Dr. Phil likes to say -to land. And, frankly, I got nothing else going today. I suppose I can afford the effort. In fact, I am going to surprise him with a morning BJ. Yes I am. God, I am awesome. And it will make up for that time I started giving him one but then I got distracted by a new mole on my arm that totally looked malignant and I started crying and Robin had to call the doctor for a same-day appointment while I rocked myself in the fetal position and composed goodbye letters in my head to my kids.

I walk back into the bedroom and climb in next to Robin. I run my fingers lightly along the comforter under which he is hunkered.

“Honey,” I say, “do you need to get up or can you sleep in? Should I bring you a cup of coffee?”

He says nothing. He’s probably wondering if this is a trick. I can understand that, since I have a bitchy habit of giving Robin decaf and saying it’s real when I am pissed at him and want him to have a headache that day.

“REAL coffee,” I say, with a nicer person, gentle, loving, soft-place-to-land laugh,”I will make you real coffee.”

I can smell the lemon verbena shampoo he uses. My favorite smell. This is nice. I reach over to rub Robin’s head.

It’s not there. Nor is the rest of his body which, all things considered, is probably a good thing. Finding him headless would be a way worse morning mellow-harsher than finding him missing.

But, what the hell is going on? I finally reach over to my nightstand and fumble around for my glasses. I put them on.

I am hugging a navy blue pillowcase adrift in the all-white sea of our king-size bed.

I wonder how long it would have taken me to find THAT out without my glasses. How far would I have gone?

I don’t even want to know.

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