MUSED
BellaOnline Literary Review
Eagle Landing by Albert Rollins

Non Fiction


Cycles

Nancy Dietrich


There was a time when I could lay awake for hours and watch Rick sleeping next to me, naked. There was nothing about him I did not find appealing. It was unbelievable to me that I had drawn the attention of someone I considered so much more attractive than I was. I was sure I would wake up and find it all a dream, so I would just watch him to make sure he didn’t disappear.

Then the drinking started, and got worse. The body was still beautiful, but it didn’t smell so good after he passed out. His breath reeked of Natural Light (the cheapest 12-pack available at the Circle K) and Camel Lights. He always showered as soon as he got in from work to get rid of the diesel and oil and mud and whatever else he got covered in that day, but then the drinking, smoking and tobacco-chewing started, and that is the musk he wore to bed. Now, I only got reminders of how he used to smell right after he climbed out of the shower—and there were already two or three empty beer cans on the bathroom sink by the time he was done showering or taking a long bath.

I was thinking about this one hot summer night as he lay, in true form, spread out across our bed. I was not awake because I was watching his naked form in the moonlight, magically filtered through French windows and overgrown bougainvilleas, but rather because the drinking made him snore violently. I used to make it a point to go to sleep before him—before the nasal concerto began—but after his last drunken rage, during which I woke to find him punching out the pillow next to mine, I never again went to bed before him. There was no avoiding the snoring now.

So there we were. I lay on my right side, looking at him on his back next to me. He stopped snoring and began talking. He did that a lot when he was passed out, too. I could never pick out much. He mumbled. I propped myself up on one elbow to hear him better. Maybe I’d be surprised and hear him say something like, “She’s right, I am an alcoholic with Borderline Personality Disorder and I need help immediately. What would I do without her?”

I was about to giggle when I noticed him slowly growing. Now I felt like a Peeping Tom. Guess I knew what he was dreaming about now. If he wasn’t passed out, didn’t smell like an ashtray, hadn’t scared me into calling the police a few weeks ago—I’d have woken him up. Instead, I just continued to watch, mesmerized by the moonlight playing across his figure.

Too late, I realized what was happening. Our dogs RC and SodaPop leapt away from the foot of the bed just as Rick began to urinate. Neither that nor my yelping and jumping off the bed woke or interrupted him relieving himself. Thankfully, his shower towel was lying on the floor right next to him. I grabbed it and threw it on him, pressing my hands down to staunch the flow which, after twelve or so beers, was substantial.

Horror did entirely capture my feelings at that time. When he seemed to be done, I took the towel and carried it to the washer. I washed my hands before taking out another one and wedging it under his hip to soak up the urine that hit the comforter. He was still sound asleep. Finally, I brought in one damp towel and tried to clean him up as best as I could. He murmured something and rolled over on his side as I manhandled him.

Sick to my stomach—mostly with worry that he was so addicted that something like this could happen—I went into the living room with my pillow and the dogs and lay down on the sofa. I listened to the washer noisily rinsing our bath towels clean in the hallway closet. The smell in the living room may have been better, but sleep was just as minimal there as it might have been back in the master bedroom.

It was Rick who woke me in the morning. Angry already.

“So you can’t even sleep in the same room with me anymore?”

How do you tell your husband that he wet the bed after he passed out drinking? The only person I can imagine enjoying this duty would be a fellow frat member.

“You wet the bed last night.”

I was so embarrassed for him, I blushed deep red. It was hard to look at him.

“Nice. Something else to hang over my head and humiliate me with.” He walked into the bathroom and I heard the shower start up.

I followed him into the bathroom. “I had no intention of humiliating you. I could have covered the whole thing up—I already washed the towels.” I paused. “I could have blamed the dogs.” I hated myself for adding that—because I never would have. I did everything I could to keep my tone as neutral as possible, but it was making no difference. He flashed a glare as he stepped into the tub and pulled the curtain closed. Screw it, I thought. He wasn’t the one playing nursemaid and doing laundry in the middle of the night.

I opened the curtain. “Someone who is drinking so much that he doesn’t wake up when he pees a gallon all over himself needs to know how far gone he is. What you do with the information is up to you.” I pulled the curtain closed and left the room.

As he showered, I put the clean, wet towels into the dryer and loaded the dry, urine-covered sheets and comforter into the washer. I waited until he turned off the water before I started another cycle.

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Reader Feedback:
WOW! "Cycles" [by Nancy Dietrich] was sooooooooo powerful. Thanks for sharing this story.
~Kim



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