Author: Robert Beech
Susan looks at the man lying naked in the bed next to her and wonders how they got to this place so quickly. He looks at her with an odd expression on his face, then rolls out of bed and begins dressing.
“You’re leaving?” she asks.
“Do you want me to leave?”
“No,” she says, somewhat hesitantly. “I thought you would stay. At least the night.”
“Is that what you want?”
“Then I will.”
He continues putting on his clothes.
“So, if you’re staying, why are you putting on your clothes?”
“You know those dreams, where you’re back in school, and you stand up in front of the class and realize you have no pants on?”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“I hate when that happens,” he says, deadpan. “It’s really awkward when you wake up in a new place and you have no clothes or maybe just a towel. A towel is better than nothing, but depending on where you are it can get pretty chilly.”
“I bet,” she says, laughing. “So, does that happen to you a lot, waking up in strange places with no clothes on?”
“Not anymore. Now I get dressed before I go to sleep.” After a minute he adds, “I will miss you.”
“What do you mean?”
He sighs. “When you went to bed last night, you were here?”
“And this morning, when you woke up, you were still here? Same room, same bed?”
“And outside, it was the same city, same world?”
“Of course, for you. Maybe for most people, but not for me.”
“What do you mean?”
“When I went to sleep last night I was in a city, but it wasn’t this city. It was a city with cobbled streets, tall towers and two moons in the sky.”
“Really. I can’t tell you the name of that city, I never found out. The night before I slept in a pine forest with lots of needles on the ground. Every day, I wake up somewhere new.”
“You know that sounds crazy, right?”
“Maybe, but I’m still putting my clothes on.”
“And when I wake up, you’ll be gone?”
“I suppose. From my point of view, you’ll be gone. I’ll just be somewhere else again.”
She thinks about how disorienting it would feel to wake up in a new world every day. Then she thinks about waking up in the same world tomorrow, in the same bed, but without him.
“Would you like to wake up here tomorrow, with me?”
“If I could, yes.”
“I have an idea,” she says. She gets up, walks over to her bureau and rummages under her clean underwear before pulling out a pair of handcuffs.
“From an old boyfriend,” she says, blushing. “Don’t ask.”
“Do you think if I put these on, one on each of us so we are chained together, that you would still be here in the morning?”
“I might,” he says. “Or you might wake up in whatever new place I do.”
“Good point. In that case, I better get dressed, too.” She puts on clean underwear, jeans, and a tee-shirt, then adds a pullover and a light jacket to be on the safe side. Fully dressed, she climbs back into bed beside him and holds out the handcuffs to him,
“Ready?” she asks.
They snap the links of the handcuffs onto their wrists. Susan puts the key carefully into her front jeans pocket and grasps his hand. Then she closes her eyes and settles down to sleep.