I shaved a few years off of Paul’s life last night.
First, let me say that it wasn’t my fault. You see, I have this problem. There’s a communication breakdown between my brain and my body, wherein the little part of my brain whose business it is to crank out dreams sometimes forgets to alert my body that the sensory input is not real and that its (the body’s) services will not be needed for the night.
To put it more simply: I sleepwalk. And sleeptalk. And sleepfight evil aliens from the planet Krakkavid with a flamethrower I built out of household cleaning products.
My college roommates used to think it was hilarious. How they loved to regale me in the mornings with tales of my midnight lapses into pirate-speak and treks into the dorm room closet in search of the lobster people. Even Paul, who has to share a bed with the spaztastic night wanderer, finds it amusing when I spring upright in bed and insist that the puppy (the nonexistent one that we can’t have because of apartment regulations) has to get down off the bed, and I mean NOW.
He wasn’t laughing last night, however. I really scared him this time. The weird thing is that I remember most of it. I recall waking up to find that there was a swarm of giant half-robot half-cockroach creatures (no doubt spawned by some nefarious mad scientist) invading the apartment. I could hear them clickety-clackering around in the living room, and skittering up the sheets from the floor. When one of them leaped onto my chest, I smothered it quickly in the bedclothes and bolted from the bed like an avenging angel, determined to clear a path through the apartment and somehow get the kids to safety.
Well, I made it as far as the hallway, where I flicked on the light and peered around the corner into the kitchen, listening intently for the tap-tap of robotic insect feet. That was when I heard Paul’s voice.
“Katrina.” Firm. Loud.
I turned on the bedroom light. “What?” I asked impatiently.
“What are you doing? Are you awake?”
“Of course I’m awake,” I snapped, irritated. Paul told me later that the really scary thing was that I looked awake. And totally, utterly insane.
“What are you doing?” he repeated.
“I had to kill a…thing, in the bed, over there!” I spluttered, that sense of urgent danger making it hard for me to think. “We have to get the kids, babe. Because…there was a thing…a bunch of things…and…we have to…uh…” My voice trailed off. As usual, the rational act of explaining my delusion woke up the part of my brain that had, heretofore, been asleep at the switch. Reality reasserted itself slowly, laughing its butt off.
“I was dreaming, wasn’t I?”
“Yes.” He still looked worried. “Are you okay now?”
I promised that I was, and after a moment’s poking of the duvet “just to make sure”, I lay back down.
A few moments passed.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
I think Paul’s fear is that I’ll actually make it to the kids’ room one of these days. So far, my episodes have been brief ones. It usually only takes a few moments after I burst out of bed for me to awaken enough to realize that, in fact, the apartment isn’t flooding, nor is my pillowcase filled with spiders*. Soon, I’m tucked back into bed, sleeping soundly. The occurrence rarely repeats itself within the same night. I’ve heard of some people who prepare and eat food in their sleep, and a few unfortunate somnambulists who wander out their front doors or drive themselves around in the car only to wake up miles away from home with no memory of the trip. This is nothing like that. Still, I imagine it’s disconcerting to the outside observer.
I apologized to Paul this morning for scaring him so badly. “You remember that?” he asked, surprised. Many times, most times, I don’t remember. I’ve even accused him of making this stuff up. “Yes, I remember. And believe it or not, I was making perfect sense before you woke me up,” I teased.
He shuddered a little at the memory. “Your eyes were bloodshot, you know. You looked…” Words failed him.
Eventually, we’ll look back on this night and laugh.
But until then, I have to sleep in the laundry room.
*Spiders, more than any other dream object, get me moving. It’s a recurring theme. I can’t tell you how many times I have awakened Paul with the thrashing and squealing that accompany killing imaginary spiders. I’ve dreamed of them covering the duvet like a pulsating second blanket; I’ve dreamed of them dropping down from the ceiling on a thousand gossamer webs; I’ve dreamed of a giant, scabby, hair-covered one creeping around under the sheets. Ick. I loathe spiders.