I woke again last night. I suppose one ought to be grateful for the fact that I woke rather than not, but the truth is that it’s getting a little repetitious.
After a time of trying to re-enter dreamworld, trying different positions: left-side, right-side, stomach, back, foetal position, I gave up and climbed out of bed to go to the toilet. I knew that that was not the right thing to do if I wanted to get back into snooze-dom, but that was it. I was expecting another hour or so of struggle as I crept, as quietly as I could, back towards the awaiting bed. I didn’t expect a bloody great big black dog to be stretched out in the warmth that I had so recently vacated.
The black dog has been there before. It waits until the cover of darkness before it creeps past our sleeping sentry, a black cat. Our moggy normally wakes up at the drop of a pin, but somehow this big, smelly viciousness of a creature has the drop on her. She would be downstairs, in the lounge, purring softly away on the chair that she had chosen as hers. She would only wake when she needed to have an early morning stroll.
Like our cat, my wife was soundly wrapped in slumber. The reason why I crept around so much, like a trainee burglar, was that I didn’t want to wake her. In the course of this last year, she has been my crutch, my mainstay, and has struggled on with the various items that life had decided to load upon her. She has now become the breadwinner and goes about it with a stoicism that I can only dream of. Tonight I wasn’t dreaming, but she was. I would keep it that way. So, I pushed the hound over a little in order to once again take my rightful place in the marriage-bed.
We have been talking about getting a dog, recently.
Not a great black one like the one that was now sleeping between us, but a golden one, a Labrador or Retriever. My wife doesn’t like ugly dogs and is always shocked that people would choose to have them as pets. I must admit that the recent rise in ugly-dog ownership has taken me somewhat by surprise. In the good-old-days, ugly dogs were the property of gang-members or wayward families on council-estates. They were the dreaded emblem of aggression that would tour a territory at the side of their owner, unleashed and uncontrolled, to scare the shit out of others. Or simply to tear the guts out of other people’s lesser canines or cats. So, when we see these semi-savage types straining at the leads that belong to ordinary, decent humans, we are puzzled and perturbed. Is this just another indication of mankind’s inevitable slide into world-thuggery and Mad Max mayhem?
The black dog was not sleeping. I had my eyes closed. I wasn’t going to let it know that I knew that it was there. I didn’t want to turn towards it because I knew that its fetid breath would distil my senses. Likewise, I didn’t entertain turning away from it in case it sensed this as a sign of weakness. So I just lay there on my back, breathing deeply, attempting to count the sheep that had scattered and fled.
After an hour of this, I left the bed to let our own black creature out for her stroll. She has a polite way about her when she needs to sample the morning air. She tiptoes into our bedroom, sits down, cleans herself and mumbles in the way that cats do. Sometimes, her polite cleaning and mumbling is met with a vexed rapport from one or the other of us, ‘Bloody cat!‘ This morning, I was only too pleased to leave the bed and let her out. Once downstairs, I thought about remaining there until the black dog had decided to depart, but I didn’t. I went back to bed and struggled into the space that had been left for me.
I have written about these moments before. I have discovered that they happen when I am at my most positive, when I dare to believe that maybe, just maybe, things will work out. It’s those Maybe Moments that are the most menacing. That’s when hope steps in and smiles. The smile is a tiny tear in the fabric of my life and it offers a possible escape. It may be that things will work out, just fine. Possibly not.