Friends, there’s nothing like waking up to a bloody pillowcase.
You lie there groggily wondering what you missed in the last seven hours. Did you have a nosebleed?* Did you sleep through a beating? OMG, WHERE IS THE DOG??
Last week Widdle and I experienced a power outage during a thunderstorm. We rejoiced that our parched garden was finally getting a lifesaving drink. I curled up with a book and Widdle fell asleep in his recliner, and the skies stormed on.
At about 10 p.m. the lights flickered and the TV did that ominous white-pinpoint-of-death thing. I’ve lived in our rural village long enough to recognize a five-minute warning. I leaped off the couch like my hair was on fire and dragged the big Coleman lantern out of the hall closet.
Then I located three of the approximately 18 flashlights we own (we always forget where we’ve stored them and buy new ones every time we go out.)
I found some utility candles, made sure the fridge and freezer were tightly closed, fed the dog and rounded up a couple of gallons of water. I shut down the laptop and desktop computers, brushed my teeth, put on nightclothes and took my sleeping pill.
I was prepared like a Girl Scout, and proud of myself. Then the lights flickered, and darkness reigned. (Darkness in the country is so much darker than darkness in town.)
Lantern in hand, I went to Widdle’s chair to tell him of this development. “Sweetheart, the power’s out. Wake up,” I whispered. He groaned, twitched and slumbered on.
Now, Widdle frequently sleeps in the TV room until the wee hours, so I didn’t worry--and I didn’t leave the lantern, which maybe a better wife would have.
Instead, I took myself to bed with little Nicky waddling behind. I tucked her in, read a little Flannery O’Connor by flashlight and sank into a satisfied sleep.
When I awoke at 6 a.m., the power was restored, my beloved was asleep beside me and a bloody pillow lay between us.
“What? What?” I gasped, thinking of the horse’s head in “The Godfather.”
Widdle opened one bleary eye and said, “Why didn’t you tell me the power went off?” Then I saw the blood on his face.
Turns out that when Widdle did awaken, he staggered sleepily through the pitch-black house, bouncing off furniture and walls as he went. He lurched into the doorjamb of our bedroom and unwittingly scraped his nose to a nubbin. Unable to see the blood, he groped his way to the bed and went back to sleep.
As I said, a better wife would have left the lantern. Unfortunately, he’s married to me.
Julie R. Smith, who just found another flashlight, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*A few years back, I had massive nosebleeds every couple of weeks. There was no pain or warning; I’d just be driving or talking to someone, and blood would start running briskly over my lips. (This will freak people out, in case you’re wondering.) I got tired of walking around with tissues fluttering from my nostrils and consulted a well-respected ENT. He peered up my schnozzle and said, “You know, some people have nosebleeds for no reason. If you have three a week, for more than two months, come back.” I left his office and have not had a nosebleed since.