I haven’t slept well in weeks.
I toss and turn through the night. In the dark before sunrise, I am jolted awake by some internal, silent alarm.
I can’t remember the thread of my recurring dream, but the feeling that it was disturbingly violent lingers as I stretch my cramped body toward the edge of the bed.
I stumble to the bathroom, still peevish about being awakened so early. On summer mornings the house is still, except for the occasional rustling of newspaper. My spouse sits at the kitchen table and waits for his ride to work.
Our three children sleep soundly in their beds, defiantly ignoring the birds chirping their reminder: “The school year is about to begin!” That is the song I hear, anyway. I imagine the kids pulling their pillows around the ears to block out the squeaking brakes of the noisy garbage truck. We are not ready to set alarm clocks, negotiate morning shower schedules, pack lunch boxes.
The dog, too, is sleeping soundly. She is sprawled across the threshold of the staircase, blocking my descent into the day. In her dreams, she has returned to her youth; she chases rabbits and chipmunks across the yard, her back legs no longer plagued by arthritis and atrophy, by one torn and one repaired ACL. I am forced to step gingerly over her to reach the kitchen counter, where the coffee waits, where my spouse has left a note: “Jenna has not moved.” She moves in her sleep, I think. She is also restless.
I move slowly in my stupor toward the coffee pot, determined to remember the dream that I believe is the cause of my restlessness. As I lift the steaming mug to my lips, I am overwhelmed by a desire to spill the coffee into the sink and tiptoe back up the stairs. Who would know if I stole a few more hours of sleep?
I hear the dog stirring in the hall. I finish half the mug in three swallows and head toward the front door. “Jenna, let’s go!” My voice is a whisper-shout, as I command her with false resolve. “It’s time for a walk.”
At the sound of the w-word, she is immediately awake. I wonder if she remembers her dreams or forgets them, as I do. I wonder if I would sleep more soundly on the tile floor.
Pushing aside the fleeting thoughts of a wandering mind, I grab the leash and repeat the command.
“Let’s go! I’m restless.”