I awoke to the tantalizing sensation of my wife’s fingers racing along my ribcage. Still in a drowsed state I reached about, searching for her hand. As I began to caress her fingers, I felt her quickly pull away as she began to poke at my sides before muttering something unintelligible. Blearily, I reached for my phone and recoiled as the sharp light filled my vision. With only one eye open I could see that it was just a few minutes past two o’clock in the morning.
“The extra sheets; where are they?” she asked as I rubbed my eyes and lifted myself to a standing position. I felt my back crackle as I stretched and, slowly, my thought process began to grind once more with each new movement of my body.
“Again?” I asked through a yawn. This was the third time in a week. “There’s an extra set in the bathroom closet.”
I had grown accustomed to sleeping on the couch since this had started. I made my way to the lamp and squinted once more as the parlour illumed. My wife began ascending the stairwell, in her arms was a set of dark red linens. As I followed her upstairs, I pondered if these may very well be our last usable set of sheets. I entered the bedroom and initiated what had become by now a routine.
“You need to make sure your side is tighter,” she softly scolded me while she pulled the fitted sheet into position. I drew it a little more, ensuring that the wrinkles were out and gave her a little smirk in return. As we prepared the next sheet the red fibers glistened just a little in the dim chamber and I remembered how we had spent our first night together between this very set, and how much different things had become now.
“Do we have any more blankets?” I asked, looking around the room.
“Just the one on the couch now,” she replied.
I let out another deep sigh. My chest was growing tighter as the apprehension of this entire ordeal wore on me. Just how much longer would this continue? I went over to the nightstand and tore off a piece of paper from a yellow notepad. We had once used this to record our dreams or ideas that had come upon us in the night. However, I was now busy writing down our surname and address for the third time this week. I looked over to the bed, at the tightly wrapped remains of my father, and carefully pinned the paper to the sheets.
“Alright, let’s get him out.” I said as my wife and I carefully carried the cadaver downstairs, through the front door, and stacked him on the curb alongside the vestiges of my mother and brother. The National Guard would come any day now to remove them and any other tightly wrapped victims of the pandemic from the street. It was the new normal.
We walked back to the house, holding onto one another’s hands. Inside I retrieved the last blanket from the couch and, returning the bedroom, we lied down and enveloped ourselves in its soft threads. In the madness we laughed.