I could feel the tufted white satin lining as my fingers searched for an opening, searched for a chance to escape. Nothing made sense. It was so dark I’d lost my bearings. Was I right side up or face down? My balance said I was slightly vertical, but that didn’t seem possible. Kicking and screaming served no purpose other than to exhaust me. I felt the trickle before I understood the source. A floating sensation…was I in the river? The water started coming in like an icy blanket and soon I was nearly covered. My face was still out of the water, but that wouldn’t last long. The coffin that held me hostage was about to claim its prize, but I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready! Why couldn’t I move? Why couldn’t I free myself?
I woke up breathing a bit too fast. Ah. It was a dream, only a bad dream. I let my mind adjust to reality. Our bed felt warm and safe. My husband was softly breathing in my ear. “Go back to sleep,” I told myself. “And next time have a happier dream!” I started to snuggle into the pillow when I realized I was essentially unable to move. On my left side my husband had formed himself to my body as if he were liquid. We were spooning like people super-glued together. On my right side Pudgy was curled in a tight ball against my lower stomach. The blanket over me had become tangled and tucked under my husband’s body and Pudgy. I was locked down, vacuumed sealed, stuck in place. I freed an arm and felt for Pudgy’s position—could I move her without rolling on her? I felt a tail, which was the opposite end I was looking for. She gave a little grunt and then began a reluctant and somewhat sleepy purr. Most sane and normal people would have pushed the cat off the bed and dealt with the blanket mess. I, on the other hand, was trying to keep every living thing happy and sleeping.
What was disturbing was my growing sense of claustrophobia. What was that about? Suddenly I NEEDED to get a foot outside the blanket. I NEEDED to feel air on my body. I kicked at the tightly tucked bottom sheet but it didn’t want to give. I butt-bumped my husband to get him to move over a bit, but he just resettled back into me. “Are you alright?” he said sensing my squirming. When I didn’t answer he threw his arm over me and hugged me tighter. I tried to tell myself to let it go…I wasn’t in a coffin, I was in my own bed…but the panic kept growing. I had to move. I had to stand up. Using my one free hand I attempted to scoop Pudgy up and move her, but suddenly she had no bones and limply avoided my efforts.
Enough already! I sat up rather abruptly and in the process Pudgy went surfing to the bottom of the bed. My husband lost all the blankets and gave a startled shiver. He again asked if I was okay. I muttered something about needing a drink of water and reveled in my freedom to move. Lingering at the sink, I downed two Dixie cups of water and questioned my reactions to the bed and the dream. Why the growing dislike of confinement?
I recalled the past summer when I used a mummy-style sleeping bag while camping at Isle Royale. Just looking at the down-stuffed bag sent shivers up my spine. I dreaded slipping my legs into the tiny space and zipping away my ability to move freely. Ultimately, however, the cold night air kept me warmly accepting of my campsite bed, and I did fine, but now the sense of claustrophobia was coming back. Why? Is it an ageing thing? I don’t know.
I went back to bed and slapped and fluffed my pillow into submission. Letting out a sigh I closed my eyes. Like a heat-seeking missile my husband tightly embraced me. Pudgy tip-toed her way back to my stomach and kneaded the space for a bit before resuming her sleep. This time I relaxed and the coffin lid stayed open. This time I accepted being crushed by love.