The Bed

by Jeff Oaks

We bought the bed without knowing whether it would fix the problem with my snoring or with M’s difficulty sleeping. Or our sore backs which seemed not to be going away. We only knew something had to be done. Working against us was this: neither of us wanted to spend any money, and both of us are afraid of change. We went shopping finally only because we had a friend who was driving long distance and needed a place to sleep. We loved her so much, you might say, we couldn’t bear leaving her on the couch all night as we used to do in the 90s. Or we didn’t want to be ashamed in front of her. One or the other or both. We needed a second bedroom, M said, and I knew he was right. At the showroom at Sears, I lay down on bed after bed, hoping one of them would stop my thinking about how much money life costs when you love people, when you want to do the right things and live like an adult. Most were too hard or too much like pudding. Then one struck me dumb. Oh, I said quietly to M, who knows me well enough by now to know that was my way of shouting. I never want a salesperson to talk to me while I’m shopping–I need silence, not noise, although I think they’ve been trained to assault you with noise to prevent thinking very deeply–, but the woman who appeared kept her distance nicely. “Let me know if I can help,” she sang and arranged the memory foam products. She was so unlike the other salesperson, a man who glowered at us, two men trying out bed after bed. We laughed with her, we nodded through her recitations of the warranty, the amount we could save if we put it on our Sears Card, the logistics of free delivery.

When the bed was delivered, set up, and dressed, when we slid into it, adjusted it to flood our bones with the maximum amount of pleasure a bed can provide, it was like a miracle. We kissed each other. Why hadn’t we done this before, we said to each other as we both were suddenly swallowed up by sleep. We didn’t even need sex now; we had the bed. Since then I’ve had the sort of wild, crazy dreams I used to have as a teenager again, imaginative worlds I’d almost forgotten I used to have. M sleeps peacefully all the way through the night. It’s the best bed we’ve ever known, in other words. It’s a time machine. It’s a thundershirt on four legs.

Now, the problem is getting out of it in the morning. The sheets are warm and the pillows we bought hold our dreamy heads in comfort. If I didn’t know the dog was waiting downstairs to go out, I’d never get up. I am filled with rest and ease and happiness. Fuck the dawn I used to wake up before and watch slowly illuminate the street. I have the bed now. Sometimes within the embrace of the bed, we embrace ourselves like twins in the womb. I don’t want to ever leave, we say to each other. What else do we expect from the products we buy? That they take us away from our lives. That they be better than us.

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