Hold On Loosely

“Just hold on loosely
But don’t let go
If you cling too tightly
You’re going to lose control”
-.38 Special-

She felt a presence. Slowly she saw the pillow descend towards her. She couldn’t struggle. Couldn’t cry out. The pillow was coming closer. She couldn’t quite see who her attacker was. Suddenly, she heard that laugh and that familiar grave voice. Her attacker was…

Katie awoke with a start. It took a moment or two for her eyes to focus on the familiar radio-alarm on the nightstand. This was her bed. And John serenely snored to her left. His pillow was safely under his head instead of hovering over hers.

The alarm wouldn’t ring for another three hours, but sleep really wasn’t possible now. Instead, Katie slipped out of bed and covered her shoulders with the velour robe John had given her for her birthday six years ago. He didn’t stir. True, it didn’t make sense for her to be wandering around the apartment at 3:30 in the morning, but this had become her special time. For the second time this week, the fifth time this month, she gently shut the bedroom door, put the water on for tea, and turned on VH-1 for background noise.

It hadn’t always been like this. Katie and John had been Katie’s idea of the perfect couple. Dual incomes. Shared responsibilities. Mutual respect. Space. Air. But things changed. Slowly she caught John making more and more demands on her time. He followed her around the apartment from the moment she returned from the office until he finally succeeded each night into nagging her into their bed. He even called her at the office, a practice that didn’t sit well with her employers or co-workers. There seemed to be no escape from him.

John had worked the graveyard shift for almost twenty years. He had complained through most of those years, and Katie had serious scheduling problems when they began dating. At first it was difficult but eventually Katie found their separate schedules to be liberating. Now that was over. Now he worked during the days and shadowed her around their apartment in the evenings. Her time for herself was now the twenty-five minutes she had each morning on the way to work, the ride home at 5 PM and her nocturnal flights to the living room for a cup of tea and the latest Danielle Steele novel.

Katie’s teacup was about empty and “Passion’s Promise” lay on the couch beside her. She realized that she had a decision to make. She remembered what Ann Landers wrote years ago. Was she better off with John or without him? She knew the answer. Katie shut off the lights and the T.V. and crawled into bed.