Laundry Games

So there I was, sweating and shaking next to my bed in the middle of the night, prepared to do battle in the dark.

…maybe I should back up.

I washed my sheets yesterday, in between starting revisions on The Bloody Throne, thumping school administrators once again (it’s turned into a saga, my gods, why can’t these people just do their jobs?), and various other chores.

Now, to understand the rest of this, one must understand that we try to be eco-conscious here at the Chez. We recycle, we compost, we do our bit even though the filthy corporations outweigh our meager efforts by several orders of pollutive magnitude. This extends to laundry.

Anyway, I was distracted while making my bed. For one thing, the dogs wanted to “help” and getting them out of the room so I could get the job done in a reasonable length of time was impossible, since they would simply snuffle and make sad noises under said door, leaving me feeling like the absolute worst monster in history. And when I open the door, there’s usually a mad scramble to plunge into the room, convinced it has somehow changed and needs to be circled twice at high speed in order to settle into its usual contours.

I don’t even know. Dogs, man.

Alternately, they leap on each other in a stunning display of gymnastic though completely playful aggression, making so much noise I’m surprised everyone in the house doesn’t have hearing damage. Said yipping, yowling, growling, and snapping echoes down the hall, which has a hardwood floor perfect for bouncing soundwaves.

Besides, there’s the problem of getting them outside the damn door. One of them follows my urging while the other slips back into my bedroom, and Miss B is sometimes fond of hiding in the master loo in such cases, and it’s just a three-ring circus all the damn time. Often, I just work around them, on the principle that it’s more efficient to deal with canines underfoot than spend precious minutes ushering them out or listening to the sad snuffles or mock-combat.

Look, I was just grateful to get the damn sheets on, and the coverlet as well. The day went on, as days tend to do, and I was exhausted by the end. Revisions take a lot out of one; dealing with administrators who just won’t stop being nasty ill-tempered petty Napoleons does too.

Anyway, I settled in bed, stared at a book on the Battle of the Bulge for a short while, then turned off the light and passed out.

But Monday wasn’t done with me yet. Oh no. At some point last night I rolled over, and I felt something that shouldn’t be there.

It wasn’t a dog. It wasn’t Khan the Teddy Bear. It wasn’t even a toddler–though both kids are well into adulthood, sometimes I half-wake in the middle of the night expecting a tiny child having night troubles to climb over me, elbows and knees sinking into every internal organ I possess, to get comfortable taking up three-quarters of my bed despite their (seemingly) small size during waking hours.

I even had a half-moment of thinking it was poor Odd Trundles, back from the grave and happy to see me. But it was not, alas, the ghost of my poor dear deceased bulldog.

Now, it’s faintly heartening that my reflexes are still good. The chain went something like this:

  1. Blissfully sleeping, dead to the world
  2. Rolling over, sensing something not quite right
  3. Lunging out of bed, my hand flashing for…
  4. …a weapon, in its handy spot I have trained myself to reach towards
  5. Ending up on my feet, sweating, shaking, and COMPLETELY AWAKE…
  6. …while both dogs snore.

The house was dead silent. It’s been a long time since I had a panic attack in the middle of the night, and this didn’t quite qualify. For one thing, I wasn’t having trouble breathing; for another, I was unnerved but not, well, panicked.

My room was its usual nighttime self. Miss B slowly raised her head, licking her lips. Boxnoggin was dead to the world. Absolutely nothing was out of place.

I was about to mutter what the hell but that might wake the dogs up further and give them the impression that Mum was Doing Something Fun, and that aforesaid Something Fun might Need Canine Supervision. So I simply made a circuit of my room, armed and ready, and even stood at the closed door, listening intently in case something in the house had triggered my alarums.

But the dogs, who would have been up and at ’em, as the saying goes, had there been an intruder or any other kind of distress, were peacefully snoozing. Either they were Falling Down On the Job, or I was simply Being An Idiot. Evidence was heavily stacked in favor of the latter.

As usual, I might add.

Consequently I got a drink of water, put the weapon back in its place, and snuggled back down into bed, half certain I’d never get back to sleep.

And then I felt it. Something nubbly and solid, where nothing but mattress and pillow should be.

I damn near levitated, making the bed squeak and waking both dogs up for realsies this time. And then I realized what it was.

You see, being eco-conscious here at the Chez, we have dryer balls. (I snicker every time I refer to them, too, because I am twelve inside.) Most of them are hard plastic with nubbins, though I’ve made others out of leftover wool yarn.

Somehow, in making my bed, I hadn’t noticed a plastic dryer ball in one of the pillowcases. I’d just jammed my pillow in, shaken it once, tossed it onto the bed, and continued merrily. In my defense, I was also dodging two very interested canines and thinking about revisions at the same time, as well as muttering baneful imprecations at school administrators.

My bandwidth, as they say, was fully utilized.

Furthermore, I hadn’t even noticed the damn thing while reading in bed, since it had migrated to a pillow-corner. I’d turned over onto it in the middle of the night and, in a fine display of paranoia, scared myself half to death, not to mention leapt from my bedding ready to do battle.

With a dryer ball.

The dogs weren’t quite sure why I was twitching or why I was laughing. I fished the offending article out, set it on my nightstand, managed to convince Miss B that no, it was not a toy or a snack or anything else deserving of her attention, convinced a sleepy Boxnoggin that he did NOT need to stamp all over me while denning back down again, then I lay in the dark almost vibrating with adrenaline for a good hour or so before sleep decided I was safe enough to visit.

At least the whole episode didn’t mean an entire night of insomnia. That’s what’s called progress.

Currently the dryer ball is on my nightstand. I’m probably going to forget it’s there, since carrying the damn thing downstairs requires a whole-ass trip I don’t want to make. I could put it in my office next to my bag so that the next time I have to leave the house (whenever that is) I see it and take it down.

I am damnably sure, though, that wherever I put it, I’ll have a moment of staring while wondering what the hell is that doing there at some point in the future, because that’s just How I Roll. I am also dreadfully sure I will be weirded out by its sudden appearance, and for at least half a moment I will suspect either that it’s become sentient and is attempting escape or that I’m losing my damn mind and leaving little articles all over the house at random.

Either, frankly, would not be much of a stretch around here.

And that is how I scared the stuffing out of myself with a dryer ball, and ended up standing in the dark next to my bed fully armed, hyperventilating, and sweating.

Never a dull moment, my friends. Tuesday promises to be just as fun as its predecessor. At least my instincts are still working. That’s something, I suppose.

Over and out.