Otto warned me quite a while ago that he occasionally walks in his sleep. I can’t even remember when he first mentioned it. I do know that it only happened once during our first stint dating (only once that I witnessed, anyway): I woke up one night to discover him pacing around the room, and when I asked him what he was doing, he stopped in his tracks. After careful consideration, he answered, “I have no idea.”
We went back to sleep.
I thought that was really weird, but that was only because I had no idea what was to come.
Fast forward several years. One night my beloved Otto and I are together, not too long after we’ve reunited, and it is late at night and I am asleep. Because I LIKE to sleep late at night. It’s sort of a hobby of mine. Do you know what I do NOT like, late at night?
I do not like being jolted awake by my very large boyfriend holding his arm across my body while staring at the bedroom door and hissing “DON’T! MOVE!” in my direction and generally acting terrified.
That one took a while to sort out. First I thought he thought someone was in the house (although how not moving was going to thwart an intruder was never clear; we could escape him with our… stillness?) and then I worried that there was some sort of CREATURE afoot, but as I whispered questions to Otto and listened to my heart pound in my ears, it became clear that he was, in fact, asleep.
And he was snoring again long before my blood pressure dropped into a normal range.
It was months after that before I woke up to find Otto banging around the bedroom insisting that it was time to go. Go where? Why, to the HELIPAD! Because they were coming soon! Who? What? Ten minutes of him becoming increasingly agitated with my refusal to grasp the gravity of the situation finally gave way to him declaring, “Um. I think I was asleep.”
So, I’m am old pro with this, now. I don’t know why it happens, but I know that it does. I am not so easily startled anymore.
Last night I went to bed with a bad headache. Otto offered to get me some Excedrin, and I told him I’d try to just sleep it off. I’d be fine if I could just fall asleep, I told him.
I fell asleep. Hooray!
I woke up a few hours later to discover my husband sitting up, flailing around on top of the covers, yammering about SNAKES.
“Go back to sleep,” I told him, half awake myself. “You’re imagining.”
“No, there’s something in the bed, I felt it.” He was still patting down the bedding, though slower.
“Otto. You are DREAMING. Shut up and go back to sleep. There is nothing in the bed.”
“It’s still here. THERE IS A SNAKE IN THE BED AND I AM NOT ASLEEP.”
I froze. How would a snake get into the house, and then into the BED? It seemed really unlikely. But what would make me feel dumber—falling for a fake snake or staying in bed with an actual snake because I had refused to listen?
“Are you serious? Are you awake and is there something in the bed?”
“Mir, I am awake. There’s a snake in the bed.”
There was a split second for decision.
Together, like the united souls we are, we both scrambled out of our respective sides of the bed without a word. I was now dancing around on my tiptoes, because refusing to put my entire foot on the floor would surely protect me from an actual snake. In the bed.
“Turn on the light!” barked Otto. I ran over and flipped the switch. Otto was still running his hands over the covers.
I started to have that sinking feeling.
“Otto? Honey? I think you’re asleep.”
“I am NOT ASLEEP! There’s a SNAKE!”
“There is NOT a—”
“HERE!” Otto had located a long ridge under the covers. He threw back the bedspread to reveal… a ridge in the mattress cover where it had bunched up a bit under the sheet.
I let my feet rest on the floor.
“Sorry,” Otto said, looking sheepish.
I turned off the light and got back into bed. Otto slid in beside me (after smoothing out the ridge under the sheet). “I’m sorry,” he repeated.
“I’m going to go get some Excedrin,” I grumped, and got up again.
“I’m sorry,” he said again, when I came back to bed.
“It’s okay,” I muttered, wishing there had been a snake. So that I could BEAT HIM OVER THE HEAD with it.
I don’t know if there’s anything we can do to stop these episodes, but I don’t think I can take too many more of them. Even though he’s really cute and everything. There’s only so much stress a person can take. Not to mention that someday something awful maybe really WILL happen in the middle of the night, and I’ll be all “Whatever, dude, you had best pony up a severed limb here in a minute or I am going to have to kill you myself.”