On The Leaden Weight of Cats in the Night

16Oct07

We pull and tug at the blanket — the first cold night of the year is upon us — but it doesn’t move even an inch: it is trapped under the leaden weight of cats in the night. We shiver at the edge of the bed, longing to be covered and warm, to retreat to the bliss of sleep, but are caught in this purgatorial state. The clock chimes and our mind begins to race. Why can’t we move the sleeping cats? (During the day, a flick of the finger would be enough to send them scurrying away.) Is it that we have become weak in our sleep, or rather that they have become heavier? Science has once again failed us.

We would like to shift a few inches to the right, but feel paralyzed; all of our energy was wasted in the initial effort to gather in the blanket. We have never felt so utterly exhausted. Our throat is parched — it hurts to swallow — but the idea of walking even ten feet fills us with despair; we also know that to drink water now would ensure a restless night of up and down to the bathroom, a vicious cycle of insomnia and thirst. In the distance someone turns up a stereo, callously destroying the fragile integrity of the night. Our ears are filled with whispers of rage as we suddenly consider the many failings that have brought us to this juncture.

Slowly we resign ourselves to the idea that sleep itself is a fading dream. We gradually awake, still cold but more focused; by now the cats have disappeared into the gray dawn, ceding the territory they had so recently occupied. But it is too late; thoughts of the day have encroached, and we begin to harness the accompanying dread of all we can expect to face. We are used to this, however, and already are enticed by the allure of the following night and the redemption it (inexplicably, given what we have just endured) seems to offer.

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