I go to bed. It’s cold and windy. I am 85% well but 15% sick so I’m cold in spite of the down comforter and the fleece blanket. I try to relax my jaw so that I can sleep. I discover I’m clenching a buttock. If I unclench the buttock my teeth lock again. Relaxing both at once is impossible. I listen to the wind.
Mabel wakes up and calls out for me. I climb into her bed. It’s much windier on this side of the house and I can’t possibly sleep. I lie there thinking about windows and gusts and the trajectory of broken glass and how far the trees are from the house. I think she’s asleep so I try to leave. She wakes up. I say “I can’t stay here, it’s too noisy. Come and sleep in the spare room with me.” She won’t. I offer up the husband like so much chopped liver: “What if I get Daddy to come and sleep with you?” That would be okay.
I go back to my bed, turf out the poor sleepy man, and slide into the warm space he left. He goes to take his chances in the room in the back on the corner with the six year old. I worry about the 8 year old who was too hot earlier and has only a thin sleeping bag over him tonight, the coldest night of the year. Will he wake up enough to pull the duvet back over himself if he’s cold? Nobody dies of hypothermia indoors, in bed, right? The heating’s still working, isn’t it? How does the heating work, anyway? Is there a pilot light? Might it have blown out? Will the house explode tomorrow morning when I go to turn on the stove? I hear the gentle hum and whoosh of the heating kicking in and can at least check dying of hypothermia off my list of things to worry about for now. I listen to the wind.
They all feel so far away, spread around the house. I wish we’d slept in the basement. Next time it’s going to be this windy we have to all sleep in the basement. B arrives back in the doorway with Mabel clinging to him like a limpet. “She wants to be with you,” he says, or something, deposits her into the big bed with me, and goes back to the noisy windy corner of the house alone. Mabel pushes her head against my cheek, throws a leg over mine, holds my hand. I put my other hand over her middle. This is how we sleep, she and I. We know how to do this. After a while I can turn over and she’ll just bump her back up against mine.
I listen to the wind. I feel guilty about B and think he should sleep in the spare room, which is at least on the less windy side. There are no sheets on the spare bed. He could bring the warm duvet with him. I think I hear him moving into the other room. I write blog posts in my mind. I plot short stories in my mind. I hear something banging and worry about what it might be, straining to listen for the next time it will bang. I wonder if it will wake the 8 year old, who sleeps like the dead. I wonder whether all our siding needs to be replaced. I wonder whether the table is blowing around the deck. I’m still cold. I pull my pyjama sleeves down and I feel the almost-pleasant thrill all over my body that means all my follicles are standing to attention, goosebumpy. I realise that my teeth are grinding to the rhythm of Take me to Church. I try really hard to relax. I listen to the wind.
Much later, I realise I’m warm, and that I’m not listening to the wind any more. I must have been asleep. I have a headache. Mabel is taking over the bed, even though it’s a queen size. I go back to sleep. There’s snow outside, and it’s minus 20 and it will all keep a while.