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How I, the Monster, Feel When Your Husband Wakes Up
by James Warner

Your husband was woken up Friday morning, from a dream in which I was chasing him across a mountain pasture, by the rattle and thud through the mailbox of your bills and shopping catalogs.
    Your husband was kept awake Friday night by the fear in his stomach, and the street noise, and the sound of you weeping passive-aggressively in the spare room.
    Your husband was woken up Saturday morning, from a dream in which he fled from me out of the pasture onto a rope bridge that crossed a vast, Daliesque canyon, by the alarm clock reminding him he'd scheduled an early flight to a writer's conference on a college campus somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, and from the spare room you listened with relief as he ran down the front steps to his waiting taxi, after which you logged onto eBay and put in a bid on a scarf.
    Your husband was kept awake Saturday night by the hardness of his bed in the college dorm where he was staying out the conference, and by the thinness of his blanket, and by his continued inability to understand why you pushed your Nieman Marcus account another thousand dollars into the red every month.
    Your husband was woken up on Sunday, after I'd chased him about a quarter of the way across the precarious rope bridge over the canyon, by the sound of ravens croaking on campus and the edgy rustling of the wind in the sequoias.
    Your husband was kept awake Sunday night by the tangy kisses of a Polish girl whose feet he'd been inexpertly massaging, a girl almost as young as the two clueless strangers whose commitment to each other your husband and you had mostly honored over the years they'd wasted turning into yourselves.
    Your husband was woken up on Monday, about halfway across the rope bridge, by the pressure on his bladder of too much Oregon Pinot Noir, and by the knowledge that the Polish girl had returned to her boyfriend's house during the night and he would never, never, never, never, never see her again.
    Your husband was kept awake Monday night by many things, among them fear of his recurring nightmare, a sense that his soul was in mortal danger, the first symptoms of a cold, and some nervousness about a panel he was supposed to be on the next day called "How Not To Wreck The Suspense."
    Your husband was woken up on Tuesday, just as he noticed that the rope bridge ended in mid-air three quarters of the way across the canyon, by the triggering of a primordial terror response in his brain, by my hot breathing down the back of his neck, and by his cell phone ringing, and by a friend shaking him because the "How Not To Wreck The Suspense" panel had already started, and when your husband answered his cell phone? it was you.
    The abyss into whom he'll always try to fall.
    Why must you swallow him all up so completely when, for me, he's the only food there'll ever be?



About the author:
JAMES WARNER needs to floss more often. He recently learned the hard way that one should never descend a steep hill on one's daughter's razor scooter. People should listen to him more. Alasdair Gray once drew a sketch of him in the Bridge of Allan library.



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Midnight Picnic
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