My body was curled into a tight ball in the upper-left quadrant of my expansive, king-sized bed. The right side of my bed was as unruffled as a newly made hotel bed, immaculately waiting for its next guest. My legs ached the way they never ached when I was younger. I slowly, creakily stretched my legs towards the bottom of the bed, anticipating the sweet relief of stretching my synovially-stagnanted knees. Midway through my stretch, as my locked joints eased themselves into release, my feet collided with a big, warm lump that stretched across the whole lower-left quadrant of my proudly spacious bed.
Such failed attempts to fully stretch my legs was not unfamiliar. Several months ago, my dog had decided that he belonged on the left side of our bed. Since he had made this decision, my early morning awareness that I was sleeping in an awkward and uncomfortable position was becoming increasingly common.
I flattened the toes of my feet into a lever and slowly slid them under my dog. He shifted and grunted, but continued his slumber. Then, slowly, my feet valiantly attempted to pry the 70-lb dog away from his recently-claimed area of the bed. He shot up in aggravation, slumped to the right side of the bed, then plopped down into a grumpy heap of fur. After his theatrics were complete, he let out a long sigh. Simply for effect.
Surely no more than 10 minutes had passed when I awoke to a heavy weight pushing my shins into my calves into the weary support of my aged mattress. Sleepily, I raised my head to find my dog's big, dopey, dream-filled head resting peacefully on my legs as his pillow. His jowls, like two thick, rubbery slices of bologna, spread out across the hard bones of my shins. Occasionally, a bubbly breath escaped from the slobbery, gaping triangle where his lips met his cheek. His eyelids were shut tight and twitched often, letting me know that he was still alive, but sleeping too soundly to be disturbed. Side-bending sharply from my waist so as not to move my legs, I reached down to rub his ear and twirl its velvety softness between my fingers. He continued to sleep.
Even with my legs poised and ready to abruptly wake my dog in one swift and forceful movement, I decided to let him sleep. I could see no point in both of us being aversely awake and forever fighting for territory in the wee hours of the morning. With my fingertips barely grazing the top of his paw and his furry body radiating warmth to mine, I closed my eyes and fell asleep. If only for a few fleeting minutes more.