In the early morning hours, when the house is asleep, the only noise heard is the soft snores of an ancient dog, deep in REM, young once more, chasing squirrels across the backyard.
Lights have been turned off, blinds drawn, backs turned away from the eastern windows in anticipation of an anxious sun.
Children, no longer small, no longer needing nor wanting to be tucked into their beds are unaware their mother still places sweet kisses on their brow as they sleep because she still needs and wants to tuck them into their beds.
Folded into a tight ball, she gradually becomes aware of her surroundings. Reluctant to extend her legs, knowing the bed is cold below her feet. The small indentation in the mattress cradles her warm body. As her mind fights its way awake, the aches in her hips and knees are louder than the dreams calling to her.
The change in her own breathing caught the attention of a large, black cat. Aloof and dangerous during the day, he seeks out her warmth, her soft touch in these quiet hours. Once small enough to nestle in the small bowl formed between her shoulder and chin, he now blankets her chest, purring loud enough to wake the ancient dog, just long enough for her to snuffle her aggravation before falling back asleep. This morning ritual will be the only time he pays her any notice, it is their secret rendezvous.
A cold nose finds her elbow, hunting for a welcoming pat. The intrusion breaks the spell and the large, black cat makes his exit without regret. The needy brown dog at her side looks to her with pleading eyes… ‘Please, love me. Please, love me…’
A calico cat, on quiet, soft feet, has climbed to the top of her bookcase, gazing down on her and the opening scene of this daily performance.
Surrounded by this menagerie, she remains the sole human awake and she longs to return to the warmth of her blankets. Coaxing the cat off her perch, inviting the brown dog to join the other at the foot of the bed, she burrows deeper into her pillows, adjusting her bones to ease the aches and pains.
Faints rays of muted light squeeze through the window blinds. She knows she has little time. Soon she’ll pass the point of no return. Struggling against the pull of circadian rhythms, it’s now or never. Closing her eyes, she conjures up the last memory of the night, as weak as gossamer wings.
Shocked out of her reverie, a cacophony of bass and treble jolt her full awake. The body beside her rolls away from the noise, but makes no move to stop it. Elbows and knees do nothing to persuade him to rescue her from this assault. Climbing over the prostrate figure, she slaps at the offending box, finally bringing an end to the rude music.
Two sets of milky brown eyes stare at her from the foot of the bed, as if the disruption was her fault. Tails thumping, she knows this routine. They will not stop until she leaves her pocket of warmth to fill their steel dishes.
Giving up on the notion of finishing a full night’s sleep, she begins her morning with a feeling of loss. Hoping she can find a moment in the day, a chance to nap, perhaps to dream.