On their second night together after Tim’s homecoming from Iraq, Maria was awoken again by Tim’s frantic breathing. Not as scared as she was the previous night, she turned on her side to face him, propped herself up on her right elbow and placed her left hand on his chest, giving him a quick shake with hopes of waking him. Remembering how this had no impact the night before, she didn’t even bother to call his name. She realized that she couldn’t wake him and that she was just going to have to ride it out.
She watched her husband inhale and exhale short quick breaths like a woman in labor. The little bit of nighttime light that made its way into the bedroom through the window reflected off the beads of sweat forming on Tim’s forehead. When she looked closer, she could see a tear roll out of Tim’s eye and down his cheek. Crying herself, she wiped his tear away and reached over to the side of his face she couldn’t see and wipe just in case there was one there too. She laid there next to her husband with her hand on his chest, feeling it rise up and then down rapidly until Tim gave out one final big exaltation and his breathing returned to normal.
The next day Maria, very casually, brought the dream up to Tim, again he had no recollection.
The dreams continued every night. They progressively got a little worse or lasted a little longer. Maria rode out each event from beginning to end. Wiping both her husband’s and her own tears until Tim’s big exhalation, which seemed to be the signal that the event was over and he would return to regular sleep.
One night, Maria didn’t awake to Tim’s heavy breathing but to find him sitting up on the edge of the bed with his feet on the floor as if he was about to get up to do something. “Timothy, what’s wrong?” No answer. “Timothy?” Again, no answer. “Timothy, what are you doing?” Frustrated that her husband was ignoring her, she got out of bed and stood naked in front of him. Their heights were on such different ends of the spectrum that with Tim in the sitting position, she was looking at him eye to eye. She waved her hand in front of his open blue eyes. He did not acknowledge the moment. Could he be…? She put her right hand on his left shoulder and started to shake. Without hesitation, Tim reached across the front of his body with his right hand and grabbed Maria’s palm between his thumb and fingers. He applied force to the back of her hand with his thumb, causing it to bend at the wrist and then rotated her hand clockwise 180 degrees.
Maria immediately screamed in pain. The pressure on her wrist forced her to bend over at the waist to prevent her arm from breaking. “Timothy, you’re hurting me.” Tim didn’t respond. “Timothy, wake up!” As soon as she said this, she realized two things. One, he was asleep and two, she wasn’t going to be able to wake him.
Helpless, Maria wondered if she was gong to be able to ride this one out. Her very large and very strong husband was hurting her. She was, for the first time since they met, afraid of him. Regardless of all this, she blamed herself. She should have known he was sleeping. She shouldn’t have tried to wake him. Still bent over, crying in pain, not knowing what to do, she heard Tim give a big exhale and let her go. He laid back down in bed and didn’t move until the morning.
As soon as Tim let go of her hand, Maria fell to the ground holding her arm and sobbing. She was in the wrist lock for only a few seconds, but it felt like hours. She was amazed at how many things went through her mind in that short about of time. She spent the rest of that night on the couch, but she didn’t sleep.
Wow! I pretty much completely rewrote this chapter. I must have written it in March of this year when I was thinking this was going to be a short story. Also, I am a better writer now than I was a week ago let alone six months ago.
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