It was not the bed that tried to eat me but the slipcover on my comforter. I awoke as I usually did, tired already, staring across the room at the alarm clock, with ten minutes left to go before it burst angrily into its ritualistic screeching. I had to keep it out of arm’s reach, because I could no longer trust myself to leave it alone. In the past year I had stabbed the snooze button into broken submission (it clicked dejectedly whenever I touched the plastic, loosened from the frame but hanging on by some electronic thread whose root clutched desperately at the guts of the machine), torn the plug out of the wall, and buried it under pillows. I’d been late four times in the last month, in the same week. So the alarm was stationed at the far end of the room, where I had to get up out of bed to silence it. But I always woke up before the alarm now. My body treated me like a child, or my brain, in its mad, slow degeneration, thought it would be funny to euthanize my circadian rhythm.
Abruptly, the slipcover sucked on my bare elbow, and a little bit of drool dribbled down my ribs.
Naturally, my first instinct was stark disappointment. What I thought I’d done to myself in the night was no cause for shame now, it was merely inconvenient, but quickly I understood that the overall moistness about my lower extremities came from an alien source, and the rest of me was in fact, slickly, inexorably, squeezing down into the gullet of the stained, ragged, plaid, funky slipcover I’d bought last year in Palo Alto.
I tore at its fringes; I screamed. From that point the slipcover set aside all pretense and began to suckle at me with great haste. I kicked, and the bed wobbled. And soon I was on the floor, rolling and stomping at the squishy innards of the ravenous linen, tearing it to pieces and slapping the rubbery lips it exposed to the air, its gullet widening to unleash a hapless roar.
I extruded myself from the slipcover, coated in its digestive juices, my ankles burning. Without hesitation, I dashed under the counter for what remained of the bleach. I had more than half a gallon, having failed to scrub the bathroom with all the enthusiasm I’d intended last weekend.
On the floor, the slipcover waddled after me, its bundled length leaping forward like a monstrous and soft inch worm. The bleach drove it back. The greenish juice sprayed over the slipcover, ruining it. The colors ran, and with them the slipcover’s will to live. It melted, backed into a corner, screeching and snuffling, the comforter inside it sizzling, oozing, the stuffing burst, feathers and cotton hailing down over my studio apartment.
But thankfully that was the rudest awakening I had to put up with that year.