The story so far:
Alex suddenly realized he was squeezing her rest, and saw the horror in his lover’s face.
He quickly let go of her, embarrassed at his own overreaction.
“****, babe, I’m sorry. I guess the lack of sleep made me lose it there for a second. You…you really didn’t hear anything?”
Maggie frowned; it wasn’t like him to get that worked up about something like that. “Why would I lie about something like that?” she tossed her bangs back, cautiously holding his hand. She was worried about him, but at the same time, still a little worried about herself. “Come on, get up. I’ll go make some coffee.”
Alex rubbed his eyes, getting up. “Yeah, you’re right. I’m overreacting. Probably some bum counting his change outside or something.” He laughed, “Hey, maybe that sound machine of yours just switched itself on ‘math class’ or something, right? Now THAT would put people to sleep.” With that, he walked to the bathroom and shut the door.
Maggie laughed, feeling better. She put on some slippers and headed into the kitchen. Hopefully he’ll be fine, she thought, as she switched on the coffee machine.
Alex finished taking a shower, and realized he’d forgotten to put his towel on the hook next to the shower. “****”, he muttered, knowing Maggie would be pissed at him when she walked onto the wet floor. He stepped out to grab the towel behind the bathroom door.
Without realizing it, he started counting his steps. 1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…he was there.
He grabbed the towel, drying his chest, then drying his face. He felt the softness of the towel against his cheeks, as his world darkened, trying to shake his sleepiness off by rubbing it against his eyes.
What would have happened if it had taken 12 steps to get to it, he wondered, and why only 12? Why couldn’t the man ever count to 13? What would happen if he got to 13?
The thoughts continued throughout the day, they’d come and go. He’d count the number of steps it took to get something, or the number of times some guy from his office whose name he couldn’t recall stroked his beard while talking to him. By the time he got home at night, he was chanting ‘one two buckle my shoe’ as he reached for his house keys.
When it came time to sleep, he had convinced Maggie to not use the sound machine that night. It was easy, since she was worried about him and wanted this whole affair to end.
He rested in the silent night, slowly fading into sleep, when he heard it again.
He looked up, to see the sound machine’s light was off…
He tried to shake Maggie awake, but to no avail.
He got up, and unplugged the thing. “I’m probably just tired. Just imagined it. That’s it”, he thought out loud. “That thing shook me up so bad last night, it’s got me going nuts is all.”
With that, he laid back down and shut his eyes.