My Homework Ate the Dog

Inspiration Monday challenge found at Be Kind Rewrite. This week I used the prompt “sleepwalking.”

Andy’s mom was a sleepwalker. Although the term was not entirely accurate; she was more of a “sleepcleaner.”

He awoke one night to her pulling the pillow out from under his head. When he asked what she was doing, she mumbled it was Wednesday and Wednesday had always been laundry day. Andy had gotten out of bed, and walked her back to her room.

Another night he awoke to the sound of running water. His mom was doing the dishes. Hot soapy water overflowed from the sink and down the counter, turning the kitchen floor into a wading pool. Chipped plates, shattered glasses and cracked bowls were swept to the floor in the current.  It took him almost an hour to mop up the mess after leading her back to bed.

His mom never remembered what she did at night, and Andy thought she would be embarrassed, so he never said anything either. When she saw all the broken dishes in the garbage, Andy cursed himself for not bringing the bag outside. He said it was his fault and winced when his mom told him the replacements would be coming out of his allowance.

Some nights she would just sweep or dust and then wander back to bed, without ever waking Andy up. The only signs of her nightly chores were the broom lying in the middle of the floor or the feather duster in the bathroom.

One night he heard noises coming from the kitchen. He crept down the stairs and stared through the banister. His mom was sitting at the table, clanging a spoon in her empty coffee cup.  He slipped behind her and turned off the coffee maker, rinsed out the burnt, black sludge and swept the little hill of sugar off the table.

The next night Andy realized he could no longer ignore his mom’s problem. He found her standing at the ironing board, the iron burning through the shirt laid out. Thick, gray smoke circled her. The fire alarmed blared and bleated. She coughed, her eyes, red and irritated, watered but she remained standing there. Andy unplugged the iron and set it upright. He pulled his mother down to escape the smoke. He ran to a window and threw it open and then submerged the burning shirt in the sink.

The air began to clear. Andy slid down to his knees and gently shook his mom awake.

Her eyes deglazed. She blinked a few times in an attempt to understand where she was and how she got there. Andy knelt beside her, smoothed her thin hair back behind her ear and told her how a few exposed wires almost started an electrical fire.


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