What Time Is It, Baby?

07:57. I could see the streetlights through the shutters closed. It was freezing outside that morning. In the cozy dark room filled by a deep silence, Emily was sleeping next to me, quietly, like a baby. From where I was, I could only see the top of her dark-haired head sticking out from a brown duvet. I love watching her sleeping.

07:58. I could remember the day we first met. We saw each other the very minute she came in the store. It was one of these big stores where you can find anything you want. She wandered around the sections during a couple of minutes. Then she looked attentively at me. She left. She came back, walking fast and asked for me. Ten minutes later we were walking out the store, together.

07:59. We had been living together for 12 years. I had never looked at somebody else. I thought about the very special relationship I have with Emily. We hardly talk; I can spend hours doing nothing but watch her working or watching the TV as she casts glances at me regularly. That peep she always has at me – which is so characteristic of her – is engraved in my memory forever.

08:00. It was time for her to wake up. I started to sing a song gently, her favorite one. She waited a few seconds before punching me softly, as she always does. She opened her misty eyes and looked at me. Then she rolled over and felt asleep again, pulling the entire duvet up over her.

It was still dark outside and I knew it was hard for her to wake up. I gave her a little while, ten more minutes.

08:10. The ten minutes elapsed. I started again singing Emily’s favorite song, very softly at the beginning and then a bit louder in order to make sure that she could hear me. But all I got is a punch and a foggy glance before she rolled over and got back to sleep.

Again, I granted her ten more minutes. I was not surprised; it is the same act every weekday. It is a kind of rite we perform each morning at 8 o’clock, to the second. We have been playing this game for years and there is no reason to stop it.

08:20. I knew that I could not expect anything else than a punch and a glance but I had to do it, otherwise she would have been mad at me. This time, she did not even let me finish the first phrase. Punch then glance. But this time, she jumped out of the bed and headed towards the bathroom.

A few minutes later she walked out and got dressed quickly.

08:32. As she grabbed her purse and her keys, she peeped at me, looking upset. She was late. She always stares at me that way when she is late. She blames me for the time, fully aware that I cannot do anything about it. But I love her anyway, just the way she is.

Without saying a word, she ran out the door just like her pants were on fire. The door smashed close behind her and I could hear the sound of her stiletto heels on the pavement fainting away as she scurried off. An unending lifeless silence brooded over the house.

I spent this whole dull day at home sitting next to the bed, lost in my thoughts. I was in a crappy mood. It rained all day long. I could see Emily had been acting in a different way for the past few weeks. I could feel it. She was coming back later and later at home and she looked concerned. Maybe she was seeing someone.

21:00. Emily did not come back home for dinner, but I was getting used to that. The fact that she could be seeing someone had been teasing my mind for the past few days.

00:00. Still not there. Maybe something had happened, I thought. I got worried about her. She could have had an accident; she could have had been attacked on the way home. Or she might have planned not to sleep there this night.

01:42. I suddenly heard the clicking sound of keys, her keys. I have heard this sound so many times that I feel almost sure I could identify and recognize her keys among thousands. I was worried sick. What a relief! Now, I knew she would get her clothes off as usual and slip into the bed, right next to me.

But this time she was not alone. I was pretty sure to hear a male voice. They were joking at each other and I could hear her chuckle softly. I felt like I had just been stabbed in the back. It made me realize that I had never seen her happy. Maybe she did not like the life she lived, I thought. But what could I do after all? I was already doing my very best.

They came in the bedroom without turning the lights on. It was so dark that I could not see them. They had not noticed me either. They were undressing each other, slowly, as their breaths were becoming shorter and louder. I was contemplating the scene, horrified.

“Could you do me a favor, Baby?” she finally whispered, “Turn off the alarm clock. Tomorrow’s Sunday.”

And I just had the time to see a big hand… that turned me off.

Quentin Pleplé
April 2010