This story was originally written in 1993, when I was a participant in the Appalachian Writing Project, a part of the National Writing Project, at Appalachian State University. It features my sister, Dawn, who died nine years ago this month and who was my best friend. I am happy that the story will be out here in cyberspace and not lost to the world when I die, too. It is a tribute to her and to my also deceased father.I despise getting up in the morning. After I get up, I’m fine. It’s the opening of the eyes, the moving away from warm comforters into chilly space, and especially the interruption of interesting dreams that I can’t stand.
My sister Dawn and I share this aversion to getting up. We’ve discussed it at length as we’ve grown older, especially since it seems to annoy our families, friends, and employers so much. We’ve decided that it was our father who made us so passionately hate waking up.
Dawn and I always slept together. I think it made us friends. Having the common enemy of our Daddy and his wake-up antics made us grow even closer. Daddy was not content to simply touch us or shake us or in some way to gently arouse us from our dreams. No-o-o. He had already been up an hour or so, spending quiet time drinking coffee and talking to my mother. By the time Dawn and I needed to wake up, the caffeine and nicotine had kicked in, and one of his diabolical plans to scare the slumber from our sleepy heads had blossomed.
Sometimes he’d just blow in our ears or kiss our noses. Other times his idea of a good wake-up strategy was to turn on the lights and jerk the covers off us; he especially liked to do this on cold winter mornings. One of his best tricks was to get a broom straw or a feather and tickle our noses or our feet. Once, he blasted us out of bed by turning the stereo and “Purple Haze” on full volume.
Occasionally, he’d pick up one side of the mattress and dump us into the floor. It drove Dawn wild when he did that. Then there were the times he took a medicine dropper and dropped water alternately on each of our faces. Oh, yes, I can’t leave out the time he just threw two glasses of water, one each, directly into our faces. (Mama put a stop to that one.)
Dawn and I fought getting up. Every morning we hated that man and his “Wake up, Honey” or “Get up, Sweetheart”. We would hang on to each other, kick, whine, and growl. We kept our eyes shut tight. Sometimes he would leave, and we could go back to sleep a few minutes. Our peace was always short-lived. He was a terror in the morning.
I’m forty-one years old now. I haven’t lived in my father’s house in twenty years, but every morning, I fight waking up. I have a clock, a clock-radio (full-blast), and a wake-up call for which I pay fifteen dollars a month. I can sleep through all of them. When Hurricane Hugo woke me, I walked to the door, looked out, drank a glass of tea, and went back to sleep. After all, what could I do about the forces of nature?
I’d love to be one of those people who wakes up early, watches the sunrise, washes a load of clothes, is never late for work— you know, all those things early risers celebrate. But I know I’ll always have those blankets pulled tightly around me, struggling desperately to shut out the world in favor of my dreams.