Awake at 4:30.
Something is awry. Sleep again. Restless.
Waking, as I try to roll over. Armor back. Trying to sit up. Burning thighs. Bristling, twitching legs.
So many of them.
Lifting my head to see. Throwing the covers off. My body appears in brown sections – my abdomen, divided and ridged. My limbs – all of them – pitifully thin, pained, still moving.
It must be a dream.
My lids, heavy. I’m falling back, into the torpor.
No use. I cannot remain unconscious.
Looking around. From my bed I can see into the storage closet, across the hall. Four well-known walls. I see the painting of the woman in the hat, in a pretty gilt frame. The crowned princess with her leering bespectacled eyes, her ermine collar. The floor – where there were stacks and clothes, boxes and cables, now navigable. It looks – a little – like a proper human’s room.
My spindly flailing arms don’t want to lift me, to help me out of bed to see. But I see anyway – the mattress now on the floor, covered in a comforter. Pillows. A shelf and hooks on the back wall. A small table, holding a lamp and two folded towels.
My legs twitch again. All of them.
Hours of lifting, sorting, throwing out, climbing a step stool, climbing the pull-down stairs to the tiny attic. The house guest, coming for a month from a small town in Brittany. No room for her. Only a closet. Only this transformation. The hours of scrubbing. The bathroom – on my knees, the chemicals. So many chemicals.
“Oh God,” I think. “What a job I have chosen. Parenting and cleaning. Writing and cleaning. Editing and cleaning. Surely the stresses of the cleaning are much greater than any other job! They are playing with my mind!”
I try to slide back into my former position. My abdomen is twitching now.
Heating pad. But how will I bend to reach it? To plug it in?
The stove top is next to address. It will take an attack with steel wool. More chemicals. Then the sink and more chemicals. Counters, and more chemicals.
I look again into the storage closet. It is transformed. It seems a new day, a strange day.
There is rain on the windows. Dreary outside. Dreary inside. If only I could scratch my belly, but the surface is hard, I can sense it. And my arms will not respond to my commands.
“Sleep again,” I tell myself. “This getting up early makes a woman quite idiotic. This cleaning makes a woman imagine things. Sleep, and everything will be as it should when you wake again.”
I close my eyes.
I dream of transformation.