By Laura Huey Chamberlain
For the last forty-two years, Sally and I have set our own alarms. Mine blares first, at 5:20 am, and then again at 5:27, when I force myself out of bed. While Sally snores I pour myself a bowl of raisin bran, give Tigger Lily one scoop of cat food, then move to the living room where I complete 35 arm circles, 20 cat/cows, and two minutes of piriformis stretches. These days I focus on the muscles of the right shoulder and lower back, but I’m not so sure it does any good.
This morning I’m back in the bedroom, buttoning my pants at the foot of the bed. Sally’s alarm buzzes and she rolls to her side, still not ready to get up. Soon she’ll have to. Her gym bag is prepped, tossed by the front door, and her lunch sits in the fridge, because I packed it last night: leftover chicken with hot sauce, yellow squash, a handful of green grapes.
Anyway, I’m buttoning my pants at the foot of the bed, and Sally still doesn’t get up. I don’t blame her. It’s a splendid bed, a natural latex model we splurged on at Ikea, king size, so Tigger Lily doesn’t get squeezed off the side. You’d be appalled at how much space a 10-pound cat can demand.
Here’s my point: Sometimes when Sally’s procrastinating, avoiding the inevitable, putting off the moment when she must leave that lovely warm bed, she does this thing. She rolls to her back, snorts, and reaches her legs and arms toward the ceiling, wiggling them in spastic circles. Her wool socks bunch at her ankles, her nightgown falls to her hips, her white underpants peak through her legs. She looks ridiculous, stretching her skinny limbs toward me. Aren’t I seductive? she hisses.
But she knows I can’t resist. I lower myself on top of her, between her waggling arms and legs. Seductive like a cockroach, I say, and she tightens her legs around my back, her arms around my head, proving me wrong, once again, because now she’s a spider, an arachnid and not a cockroach after all, and I’ve been caught in her web, her snare, and she wraps, wraps, wraps her magic silk around me until it doesn’t matter anymore when our world will spiral out.
Laura Huey Chamberlain is a proposal manager in the Washington, D.C., area. Before that, she edited academic journals and books and taught literature and writing at various colleges and universities. She’s been a finalist for the Glimmer Train Award for New Writers.