She woke up with a short gasp. A silent one, but a gasp nonetheless. She wondered how long she’d been holding her breath in reality. In the dream, she’d raced through long corridors until she had come to a dead end and then she had heard a door close behind her, and then the walls had started to close in on her, and she had screamed and then she had tried to push back with everything she got, before she had blown a bubble with her gum and hoped it would hold the walls, but the bubble had burst and the walls got closer and closer, and then there was … a circus and … she had flipped a bird at a guy watching her at the ceiling window and … just as the walls had touched her on both sides, she woke up.
She didn’t need to analyze the dream all too long to figure out two things about it. First, it was nonsensical like most of her dreams seemed to be. They didn’t feel that weird to her when she was having the dreams, but when she told them to him in the morning, he always laughed, and told her they didn’t make any sense.
And second, she knew what had made her brain produce the image of walls closing in.
She could feel the reason right then on her hip. His arm. It was his heavy arm with a heavy watch on it. She had asked him once why he didn’t take the watch off during the night and he had told her that he wanted to know what time it was when he woke up. Now that his arm was halfway around her waist, with his forearm resting on her hip, and his hand hanging loosely, she, too, could see the time.
A quarter past three.
She really needed a glass of water, but the glass on her nightstand was empty. She also needed to pee. First pee, then drink some more, she told herself, but most of all she really wanted to just get out of the bed. Wrong. Most of all she wanted to get rid of the weight on her hip – right now.
It’s not that she didn’t like him touching her, or that she minded him holding her. No, she did like it and she didn’t mind it. It was nice during the day, but when it was time to sleep, she wanted to be free. She wanted to go to a place where no-one else could go, and she didn’t need to be held back, no sir.
Early on, weeks into their relationship, she had made up a story about her being a bit of a wild sleeper and that he shouldn’t take it personally if she happened to slap him in her sleep, or kick him, or something. (She thought it was nice of her to take the blame for something she’d never do, because often, she’d actually wake up in the exact same position she had fallen asleep in).
“Or accidentally hold a pillow to my face?” he had said, jokingly.
She had laughed because it occurred to her it was ironic that it was he who made her feel suffocated, but she didn’t say anything and when he had made some joke about forking and spooning, he had thought she laughed at his pun. He loved puns. She loved him so she let him have his fun.
“Fat waf knife,” she had replied. He didn’t get her joke so she just had gotten angry and told him to keep to his side of the bed.
“My side of the bed? Oh yeah? We now have our own sides?”
Typical man, she thought. He had to take it personally and make a big deal out of it. Apparently it was OK to have his and her side in the car – the passenger’s seat was her side, he’d told her – but not when they were sleeping in her apartment in a bed she had bought (right after she had left her previous boyfriend).
She had let it go then, and he, still mad, had tried to make some sort of a statement by sleeping with his big arms by his side for seven nights in a row, which was obviously a very stupid statement because that was exactly what she had wanted in the first place so he hadn’t proven any point whatsoever.
The next time he had put his arm around her – last week – she hadn’t said anything, she had just moved right to the edge of the bed, out of reach basically, and stayed there until he turned around again, taking his arm to the other side of the bed – where it belonged, she thought.
She turned to her stomach. His arm was now on her back. She slid down and off the bed so that her knees were on the floor. Her upper body was still on the bed, and his arm, that heavy, hairy arm, was on her neck, tickling her. She kept on sliding down until she was sitting on her knees on the floor. She heard his arm land on the mattress.
She got up and tiptoed out of the bedroom. She put on her jeans and a blouse and walked to the kitchen to get that glass of water, then walked to the living room and lay on the couch. In the morning, she’d tell him that she had got up real early to do some work. He never asked her what work. She pulled a blanket over her and fell asleep.
In her dream, she was flying.
I need some space, oh, oh
Come back some other time and place
I need some mo-oh-oh-oh-oh-ore space
Cheap Trick – Space (1988)
This is a part of an ongoing series of stories, mostly flash fiction, inspired by 80s pop songs. You can find them all here.