One recent morning, dark and dreary, as I pondered, weak and weary, after binge-watching vintage noir films (as if one needs more psychological drama on top of taking one’s husband for another ER visit due to his sky-high blood pressure and pains in his still-healing heart, rising pandemic numbers and escalating real-life horrors televised nonstop on the news, hurricane-spawned thunderstorms, demon-possessed Internet connectivity, and Election Year), I’d had enough couch-cocooned passivity. I tossed my safe warm blanket aside. I got up, showered, dressed, fixed my hair and makeup even if I wasn’t going to see another person but my husband and son, who’d taken his dad to pick up new prescriptions. I would face the day and whatever it held, head-on.
Having pulled myself together, feeling quite in command for the first time in a while, strolling back through the living room, picking up random bits of fluff from Dennis the dachshund’s destruction of yet another furred squeaky toy (why do we keep buying these), I noted one of my guys sitting on the couch.
Huh. Could’ve sworn they’d already gone to the pharmacy... barely glancing, bent on my fluff-retrieval mission, I said, “Hey, didn’t know you were—”
Whoever it was, sitting there on the couch, wasn’t.
There were no feet on the rug.
No legs, either.
It was the blanket. Sitting on the couch, right where I tossed it.
Now, this is when it either really pays, or really, really, really doesn’t pay to be a reader/writer/film noir binge-watcher.
Because, voilà! A STORY.
And because, Heaven help me, I know too many, truth is stranger than fiction, brains can’t always process what eyes are seeing, I overdosed on ghost stories and tabloids like National Enquirer and Weekly World News as a youngster, watched too many Twilight Zone marathons as an adult, it’s my fault I’m this wired from excessive cups of coffee, that my mind short-circuits with what and why and how, as in: How could the blanket land exactly like that and look so like a person? Albeit a kind of smallish one? Unless… unless it happens to be covering something heretofore invisible… and how long might it have been sitting here without my knowing?
But it’s only the blanket, right?
I check the driveway. Yeah, my guys are gone. No one’s here. Just me and Dennis, who saw me cleaning up his toy-wreckage and promptly took off for the bedroom to hide under the bed.
I eye this blanket. I walk around it.
All those times I told students to think what if? comes back to haunt me… What if the blanket has taken on a life of its own, after I cocooned myself in it for so long? What if my melancholy has taken form, substance, become a Thing, made manifest by the blanket? What if I’m just, like, finally losing it (would that be so terrible)?
I almost come entirely out of my hide to leave it lying beside me as yet another separate Thing. I was beside myself …
It’s just the house popping, does it all the time, you’d think I’d be used to it by now (why is it SO LOUD, it sounds deliberate … what if someone is living in the attic? has been living there for ages and I haven’t known? … don’t be ridiculous, the floor up there is incomplete, no one has fallen through the ceiling… yet…).
The blanket isn’t moving.
It’s just sitting. Rather benignly.
I decide to take a few photos (proof, you know. In case of… whatever).
That’s what I said I was ready to face, right? The day and whatever it held? Head-on?
Be careful what you wish for…
So silly. Absurd. Over it.
Time to reveal what is and isn’t real. I reach for the edge of the blanket and
—is that faint chuckling I hear?