First, the dog uses his hind leg to scratch his armpit.
The persistent sound of chaffing wakes me from my dream.
It’s Saturday morning. Still night outside.
Although I don’t have to work today, I’m standing in my boxer shorts in the middle of an otherwise somnolent bedroom.
I say, “Get up, Lenny.”
Lenny doesn’t respond. His eyes are moist, looking up at me.
I say, “C’mon, Lenny, let’s go.”
Lenny stands up one leg at a time and exits the bedroom.
I close the door, shut him out. I don’t feel bad. He now has the whole living room and kitchen and dining room to himself.
I hear him leap onto the sofa and settle into his interpretation of an impervious ball.
Bridget sleeps undisturbed even after I slide back under the sheets next to her.
Parts of my body press into parts of her body. We are asleep but touching. Like this I attempt to recapture my dream.
Next, the cat rasps at the closed bedroom door.
She is merciless, scrabbling for freedom, indifferent to everything.
The door quakes on its hinges.
I open my eyes and see a pile of fur hunkered on the carpet staring at me.
I think, Fuck you Honeyed Cat.
But the thing is, I love Honeyed Cat. She has been with us for years, almost since the very beginning. She is family.
I don’t immediately react to her demand.
My logic is simple: I don’t want her to think rasping in the middle of the night will result in getting what she wants.
It seems logical, but it’s actually foolish, a standoff we’ve lived through countless times.
The longer I wait, the higher the chances are of her rasping again, until she goes and does it, more this time, louder.
I count to seven and get out of bed again to open the bedroom door.
Honeyed Cat darts into the hallway and hisses at Lenny, who probably met her at the threshold to the living room.
They are familiar with each other. She is his older sister. He is her younger brother.
I remember when Lenny was a puppy, he would go into a barking fit every time Honeyed Cat jumped onto the top of the refrigerator for repast.
As a puppy, her leaping abilities flummoxed him.
She doesn’t make him bark anymore. He’s grown. Thirteen months old, no longer a puppy.
I get back into bed, where Bridget has one arm raised in the air as she rubs it with her other arm.
While it’s easy for me to fall asleep, I am a light sleeper. Bridget is the opposite. While it’s hard for her to fall asleep, she is a deep sleeper.
This means I am the one tending to our pets, aka, our children-for-now.
Sleep still comes easy to me even after being twice disturbed.
I dream until the alarm clock goes berserk. By no means is this my idea of the perfect Saturday morning. But it’s OK because life is messy.
Bridget is already late for work. She didn’t hear the alarm clock. I burrow into the sheets while she showers.
Bridget says, “The water pressure sucks!”
She runs bath water and started taking a bath. I get out of bed, make the bed, and go into the kitchen to wash the dishes from last night.
Bridget screams, “Ow!”
Bridget’s scream is high-pitched. I’m scared to find out what happened. My brain tricks me into thinking there was no scream.
Bridget whimpers, “Ow, ow, ow.”
My denial ends. I go to the bathroom and find her holding the top of her head, her pate. She isn’t crying but she is close to it. I can feel her pain.
Bridget says, “I hit my head on the faucet. I felt the skin crunch.”
I ask, “What were you doing taking a bath with your head under the faucet.?”
Bridget says, “It’s deeper on that end.”
I sigh. Her pain reminds me of the last time I hit my head. It was in the laundry room.
I relive bending down to get my load out of the dryer. My head smacks into the coin slot. I somehow finish getting my load and walk back to my apartment.
I lie down on the sofa, the same one Lenny has since made his own, and I touch my head, see blood on my fingertips.
I whisper, “Fuck.”
I say, “Shit.”
But vulgarity doesn’t cure me, and it won’t cure Bridget.
Seeing her there in the bathtub haunts me. Head trauma is no joke. We are our brains.