Monday, June 16, 2008

Aldred and the Arm

Somewhere in the middle of the night, Aldred awakes to the realization that there is a stranger in the bed with him. He's well past the age where this would be a pleasant surprise. Aldred is an inveterate side-sleeper, and the invader's arm is resting on the back of Aldred's head, behind the ear, pointing up as if he were standing close (far too close) behind Aldred and hailing a taxi.

Aldred knows that this is a moment for calm and clear action. Don't panic, act quickly, get to a place of safety. Carefully he works his hand out from under the pillow and lightly encircles the stranger's wrist. Then he slowly raises the whole arm a fraction of an inch, just enough to let him slide out from under this unwelcome embrace. The lifting goes off without a hitch as Aldred has a surprisingly delicate touch. When he tries to slide out from under the arm, however, he finds himself unable to move more than a token amount. The bedsheets must be restricting his movement. Not for the first time, he curses his love of snug linen.

So then, a more radical plan is needed. He's no great proponent of violence, but circumstances have left him with no other option. He tightens his grip on the offending wrist, and takes a moment to steel himself. Then he throws himself out of the bed with considerable force, still holding tight to the arm. He lands on his back, quickly leaps into a standing position, and delivers a savage knee to his enemy's solar plexus, which his grip on the arm should have conveniently placed nearby.

Except that his knee meets only air and Aldred staggers back, desperately fighting this sudden unexpected change in his center of gravity. He tries to reach out his left hand to steady himself as his right is still keeping a death grip on his opponent's wrist, but the only response from his left arm is an excruciating attack of pins and needles.

It's more or less at this point that Aldred realizes he is standing in the middle of his bedroom at 3 am, his right hand locked around his left wrist. There is no invader: his arm had simply fallen asleep to the point where it was so numb he no longer felt it as part of himself. Shortly he will find this hilarious, but his initial reaction is a sickening existential vertigo as his sleep- and adrenaline-addled brain tries to reintegrate the limb back into his sense of self. Aldred almost faints as he goes through the shock of a reverse amputation, the limb binding back to him in a surgical flash of self-awareness. He shakes this strange new limb that is suddenly under his control, as much out of sheer wonder as to get rid of the lingering pins and needles. As they recede so does the sense of newness, and the limb becomes familiar.

Aldred feels a tiny twinge of regret that at the end of it all he has performed no heroics, faced no great dangers, and received no exciting new limbs for his troubles. He gives the same old arm one last contemptuous shake and stumbles back to bed. By the time his head hits the pillow the regret has evaporated, and the chuckling has begun. This quickly gives way to snoring, a consequence of Aldred trying sleeping on his back for once.

2 comments:

Hannah said...

this could happen to me, seriously. the 'captcha' below says 'pigbft'.

Julie Powell said...

I find myself actually wishing you would write more per day. Snap that whip....