I was trapped. My fingers slid uselessly across the face of my cell phone, and the incessant clanging followed me wherever I tried to run until I finally realized it was a dream, and then I was awake. It was 2 a.m.
I stared at the pale rectangle of light at the other end of the room for what felt like hours, trying to figure out what had precipitated the noise in my dream. I tried to think happy, non-anxious thoughts, but I knew something must’ve happened in the real world to cause that sound. It wasn’t the alarm clock; that was the usual offender, but Rockford was sound asleep. The smoke detector wasn’t going off, and no one was playing drums anywhere in the house. So that only left one possibility: Burglars.
So much for happy, non-anxious thoughts.
I listened with all my being for the intruders and tried to figure out what I’d do once I finally saw a silhouette in the doorway. I didn’t want to wake Rockford until I heard something else, something definitive. And then, at about 2:15, I heard it.
I coughed. Loudly, and a lot. An incessant clanging rising up straight from my larynx. I got up, too tired to feel foolish, and took some cough syrup. The coughing wouldn’t give up that easily, though, so I moved to the couch so Rockford, at least, could sleep in peace.
I wondered if the antibiotics I’ve been taking might have contributed to the vividness of my dream, but Googling “zithromax dreams” only led me to a message board full of people who believed it had made them lose their sense of smell or given them dissociative disorders or an uncanny streak of good luck. (I don’t know. Just reporting the facts, ma’am.)
I completed two levels of the dumb Facebook game I’ve been playing, and then Pete joined me on the couch.
“I can’t sleep, Mama.”
“Me either, buddy. Would you like some warm milk?”
He nodded, and we went to the kitchen. He clutched his blankie and quietly sipped a small glass of milk. I held his hand, and I tucked him back into his bed.
“Try to sleep now,” I said. I kissed his head. “I love you.”
“I love you, too, Mama.”
By 4:30 he was smashed against me on the couch, all long-limbed and stretched out and radiating little-kid heat. I held him close.
“Mama,” he said at 8 o’clock, “I would like to watch ‘Super Hero Squad.’ ”
“OK,” I said. And then I went back to bed and slept for one solid, blissful, uninterrupted hour.