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He said he'd protect me. That no one would ever hurt me again.

He built this huge house with everything I needed right at my fingertips. So I'd never have to leave. Never.

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Sleepwalker            December 1, 2000

Wake up and smell the coffee!

by Tammy Harris


Email to a FriendHe liked for me to wake him up. Alarm clocks are so abusive. I had to be really careful - with an iced-down Dr. Pepper in one hand and exactly six Oreo cookies wrapped in a white paper towel in the other. He had considerately installed one of those door handles that you could work like a lever. That way I could use my elbow to open the door.

Careful. Don't let go of the handle too quickly or it will bang back into place. Door handle banging back into place. Not a nice way to wake up. He'd let me know.

The door handle banging thing didn't happen too often, though. Back to my morning mission. Morning, afternoon (whichever). He was a shift worker. Either way the room would be dark as death. After successfully opening the door just a bit, I would squeeze sideways through the opening.

Careful. Don't shed light across his 'handsome' face. Light shining in your face. Not a nice way to wake up. He'd let me know.

Through the darkness, I'd carefully make my way to his side of the bed. Ever so gently, I'd set the Dr. Pepper and Oreos on the nightstand.

Careful. Don't let the cookies roll onto the floor. Dog hair on a cookie. Not a nice way to wake up. He'd let me know.

Grasping my nightgown with one hand, I'd twist it tightly against my waist. Then, I'd raise myself up and lean across my 'sleeping prince' to get my pillow.

Careful. Don't let your nightgown hit him in the face. Nightgown in the face. Not a nice way to wake up. He'd let me know.

Kneeling down on the floor, I'd softly whisper my 'dear one's' name. 'Richard. Honey. It's time to wake up.' I'd place my pillow beneath his head to elevate him properly. 'I have your Dr. Pepper and Oreos.' With a pronounced grunt, he'd reach through the darkness to take the Dr. Pepper as I guided it expertly into his hands. Then with a loud 'mmph,' he'd flick his hand and snap his fingers in the direction of the Oreos.

One night I woke up. In the dark, I saw the light. In its glow, I saw him lying there. Snoring. Two hundred and fifty pounds of lily-white flesh. Greasy brown locks plastered all around the face. Slack-jawed, mouth open. A stream of drool running down his jaw stopping just short of his waxy ear.

I thought, Who is this obnoxious, obese man lying next to me? Why am I here? Really, why am I here? I am a fairly intelligent person. Well, I used to think so. Of course, he is always telling me how gullible and na´ve I am. How I let people run over me. Yet, the only time I feel 'run-over' is when I am with him. In fact, the only time I really feel stupid is when he makes me feel that way. (Careful.)

I used to have hopes. Dreams. I wanted to be a writer. A psychologist. Perhaps even both. He didn't like me going to school. Especially studying psychology. He didn't want me examining him all the time. He said I did enough of that already. Always taking him the wrong way. (Don't do that.)

And crying. He said I'm over-emotional. Always crying at the drop of a hat. (Not nice.)

But he also said he'd protect me. That no one would ever hurt me again. He even built this huge house with everything I needed right at my fingertips. He said his goal was to have everything I could possibly need right there in the house. So I'd never have to leave. I'd never have to leave. My God, I thought, he's right. I am gullible. What is it he is always saying? That's it. 'Wake up and smell the coffee!' Well, I smell it. I smell the coffee.

I swung my legs over my side of the bed. I was not going to wake this man up in the morning. But wait. A thought registered. I loved him - didn't I?

Careful. Don't go back to sleep. Going to sleep at eighteen and waking up at twenty-seven. Not a nice way to wake up. I let him know...

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