Scooping her long hair into a ball and peeling out of a thick robe, Michelle entered the dark master bedroom. “The kids are finally off to sleep.” Her eyes darted to the alarm clock when there was no answer from James. She looked at him again, stretched across the entire bed, spread-eagle. “You’re asleep already at 8:45? You’re gone to bed with the kids.”
James opened his arms. “Come here.” She climbed upon the bed, resting on top of him and he wrapped his arms around her. “Mmm, now I’m home.” Michelle smiled and nuzzled her face against his neck. “You know, some people say that they can’t imagine getting married and going to bed with and waking to the same woman every night and morning. But after five years, I still love holding you.”
“I love you too.” Michelle whispered in his ear and kissed his cheek. The navy blue curtains refused the moonlight into the room and the couple enjoyed each other with every bit of wanting.
The clock read 12:00 am and the sound of snoring prevailed through the house. And snoring prevailed through the vehicle of silence. James and Michelle slept snuggled together. He with his arm over her and she, practically under him for the feeling of warmth and security. A quaking bed opened Michelle’s eyes. She lay there trying to think what was going on. James suddenly sprang up, in the bed like something had stuck him in the back. His already rapid breathing grew worse by the second.
“Babe, what’s wrong?” Michelle sat up in bed next to him. He did not answer nor look in her direction. Michelle turned on her knees to face him, now kneeling in the bed. “Babe, what’s wrong?”
“I don’t belong here…” He whispered in a trance still panting.
“What do you mean?” Michelle asked.
Jameds flinched violently when his eyes finally fell on her. “Who are you?” He demanded of her. His mouth gaping, his eyes grew wider and wider until they bulged as if Michelle shape shifted before his eyes from one demonic entity to another. She inched closer reaching out to touch his face when he jumped away.
“Who are you?” His legs now over the side of the bed.
“James I know you’re a great actor but this is NOT funny.” Michelle tried to remain calm.
A frightened face stared back at her. “I don’t belong here – I’m gettin’ ma kids.”
“James, don’t wake the kids.” She scrambled off the bed behind him.
He already had their oldest, leading her down the hall by one hand as she rubbed at her cloudy eyes with the other.
“James!” Michelle tugged at his arm. “It’s ME!” It’s me.” She tried catching her breath while holding back tears. James continued down the hall, staring blankly at the woman he did not know with bulging, now angry eyes. “James!”
“I’m takin’ ma daughter outta here.”
“James, look! She’s still asleep…” The baby had closed her eyes while on her feet.
“It’s me, James – your wife! C’mon, I’ll put her back in her bed.”
He stopped, blinking his eyes.
“C’mon, let’s put her back to bed…”
James released the baby’s hand and Michelle scooped her up, kissing her cheeks. She carried the baby to her bed and tucked her in. She exhaled a sigh of relief and just as she rose from dragging a light hand over the baby’s forehead, she noticed James was still planted in the middle of the hall, in a trance. She approached him.
“Come on, let’s go to bed.”
James blinked and allowed her to guide him back to bed. They both climbed in and James was snoring within seconds.
Saturday morning consisted of bright-eyed children playing in their room and the aroma of hot, buttery pancakes slathered with syrup. The scent seemed to float on every puff of air that slipped through some crack in the house. Going through the motions of cooking breakfast for the family, Michelle managed to drop a pancake on the floor. She dropped a dollop of butter on the floor then broke a plate. The crash and the sounds of huffs and sighs of disgust brought James into the kitchen. He wrapped his arms around her waist from behind.
“Hey, what’s wrong with you this morning?” He whispered and pecked her neck.
She gasped. “Do you really have to ask me that?”
“Look, if you’re upset that we fell asleep kind of early last night, I’m sorry – I was tired from the work day.”
Michelle blew air through clenched teeth. “James, you stormed out of bed last night yelling about how you didn’t know me, you weren’t supppose to be HERE with me and tried to take our daughter from me!”
“What?” He asked.
“Yeah – “
“What the hell are you talkin’ about? I did no such thing!”
“Yes, you did!”
“Michelle, don’t you think I’d remember something like that?”
James, don’t you know I wouldn’t make up anything like that?” And why don’t you remember? You dragged Karen out of bed – she was stumbling down the hall rubbing her eyes…”
“Look, I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.” He prepared a plate of four pancakes and sat down to eat.
Michelle stood planted in the middle of the kitchen, stunned.