Before the sleep walking started, there were just nightmares. The first one happened the night Tim got back from Iraq. Maria had everything planned for his return. When his plane landed, she messaged a girlfriend to “go ahead.”

When Tim walked out of from behind the terminal security, he calmly walked over to his petite wife, dropped his bags, and picked her up and hugged her all without saying a word. Through his embrace, he tried to communicate to her how much he missed her, how sorry he was for everything that happened, how much he loved her, and how truly glad he was to be home.

The drive back to base from the airport was quiet. There is an awkwardness of being reunited with your wife after coming back from war. It goes away with time. Maria did relay the story of how she drove Tim’s pickup one night to a vacant house on base. She removed the screen door and installed it the same night on their house. It wasn’t exactly theft because she was merely transferring it from one government building to another. Tim laughed at the story but felt odd that there were things that had happened in his wife’s life over the past few months that he didn’t know about.

When they arrived home the house illuminated with the glow of vanilla scented candles, Tim’s favorite. Though the bubbles had fizzled out, the water drawn in the tub was still warm. They awkwardly got undressed like they were new lovers about to make love for the first time and got in the tub where Maria bathed her husband. It wasn’t until he saw it there piled on the floor that Tim noticed Maria’s outfit. It was the exact dress Tim had seen in a Victoria’s Secret catalog the guys were gawking over in the shop one day. He had torn the page out and sent it to Maria with a note saying, “I would love to see you in this.” She had taken the picture to Vitoria’s Secret where a clerk helped her order the form fitting, pink with black lace trim dress along with the very high heel shoes the model was wearing. Tim was upset he hadn’t noticed it on her but was thrilled that she had gone through all that trouble.

After the bath, they made their way to the bedroom and got into bed where Tim immediately fell asleep. For months all he could think about was making love to his wife, but it would have to wait one more day.

When Maria noticed her husband was asleep, she wasn’t disappointed. She knew what he had gone through. She got up and blew out all the candles in the house and then crawled back into bed next to her husband and fell asleep, relieved that he was home.

A couple of hours later she woke up to Tim frantically huffing and puffing. “Timothy, what’s wrong?” Tim continued to huff and puff. “Timothy,” her volume increased. “Timothy!” She started to shake him. She could tell he was having a nightmare but couldn’t wake him. Tim then took one giant inhalation and fell silent. He didn’t wake until the morning.

The next morning Tim made love to his wife after four long months. Afterward, while enjoying their first cup of coffee together since the day he left, Maria brought up the nightmare. Tim had no recollection of it. Maria blew it off as a one-time thing and hoped it would never happen again but it did.

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