Who Goes There?

As an early Christmas gift, Bill let me sleep in on Sunday, a concession for which I love him dearly. You see, I’m not naturally an early riser like he is. His internal alarm usually goes off between 5:00 and 5:30 every morning no matter the season. Mine is more attuned to the rising of the sun, which means that during the winter months it’s set for around 7:30; in the summer I awake closer to 6:30. So, during the shorter days between October and March we compromise and he wakes me at 6:30 and throughout the long, hot days of summer, I’m prodded around 5:30. But no matter the season, he always bribes me with a steaming cup of coffee, which I down gratefully before we set out on our daily five-mile walk.

But getting back to this morning…

Although I’m sure my body would have happily continued to snooze, at 7:10 I was jolted awake by the clicking gears and subtle motor hums of the Red Menace. Much like the mother of a newborn, my subconscious is apparently finely tuned to this sound. It’s a similar phenomenon to being jerked out of a sound sleep because I dreamed Mom was calling for me. Nine times out of ten it’s just that – a dream. But sometimes she’s actually taken a midnight tumble and needs help getting back into bed. So, whenever it happens, I always get up, tip-toe across the hall and go into her room to check on her.

But on this Sunday morning, four days before Christmas, it was the hushed squishing of rubber wheels and the subliminal drone of the electric motor that woke me up. As Mom continued down the hall towards the living room and the breakfast Bill had laid out for her, I fell back into a fitful doze, imagining the not-so-stealthy return of the Red Menace. And my fears were soon realized when, at 7:30, Mom drove back down the hall, parked in the doorway of the bedroom and asked loudly, “Are you awake?”

“Yup,” I replied, rolling over and sitting up on the edge of the bed. “I am now. What can I do for you?”

“Oh nothing,” she said with a shrug. “I was just checking.”

“Checking?” I asked as I stood up and slid on my slippers.

“Yes, checking,” she said, turning to leave. “I thought I saw you walk by earlier, but I didn’t know who it was.”

“How could you see me but not know it was me?” I shouted after her. “That doesn’t make any sense.”

“Because you could have been someone else,” she yelled back. “You never know.”

“Like who?” I called out. “Santa Clause maybe? Rudolf? The Abominable Snowman?

“Maybe, maybe not,” came her muffled reply. “Maybe just the not you but the someone else.”

Merry Christmas!

Santa waving

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