“When Sheets Attack! Part 4: Ridiculously Righteous Rage” {complete}

we get some answers. Do read “When Sheets Attack! Part 1,” “Part 2: The Cricket Conundrum,” and “Part 3: Sleeping Beauty Syndrome” first.

I smiled as I climbed into bed. With all my troubles sleeping and dreaming whilst I slept, I’d instituted a new bedtime routine. As much as I chafe to wander freely and live life free of encumbrances, a routine serves as balm for my soul. If I travel too long without access to a kitchen, I get twitchy in the manner of runners kept from a treadmill.

Only a couple of days in, and if the routine wasn’t exactly helping yet, I thought it was, which is all that mattered. I washed my face, I made my chamomile tea, and I climbed into bed with it, planner and pen ready to jot some notes on the day at the ready.

“oh, god, that’s hot.”

Predictable, really. Hot tea, cold night, comfortable bed, and me. And spilled tea.

I leaped up, shouting. To add insult to my burns, I kicked the corner of the bed with my tender, exposed big toe. I cursed, while Pepper picked one eyeball out of the nest of blankets in his bed. He blinked, put head back under the covers, and returned to his rest.

I took a deep breath and set about stripping the bed. I barely bothered to leave on the one light as I grabbed a dry set of sheets. Luckily, I caught all the tea with myself and my pajamas. The bed remained dry. I changed and dumped the cold tea down the drain.

I bounced into bed after turning the light off. No reading for me tonight I thought as I landed. Before I could be launched back into the air, something grabbed and held on tight. I struggled, failing a bit.

“Hold still, you horrible creature,” the nefarious sheets growled all around me.

“Damn!” I could blame no one but myself: in my haste I returned the sentient sheets to my bed. “You better have a rational explanation for grabbing me.”

I thought of the dream. The voices were so similar, could the sheets be the stranger in the stone bedroom of my dream? What worked once might again.

“I do not consent,” I said firmly. Success! I scrambled free, taking the duvet with me. The sheets gently held on to my ankle.

“There is no need to chill yourself, demon sprite of my dreams.” His tone had not improved.

“No grabbing, then,” I responded. Not only is it simply unacceptable to grab a person when she doesn’t want to be grabbed, but I have a particular aversion to it.

As a child, Mum wasn’t big on the idea of spanking me. She was still strict. I knew from a young age that inappropriate behavior would be tolerated neither at home nor in public, but especially not in public. At home, some yelling and time spent on a chair in my parents’ bedroom kept me from the delightful distractions of my own space and left me thinking of my bad behavior.

Making a scene in public was never something Mother tolerated for herself, let alone me. Possibly, it led to my own reticence today. She was never the type of mother that yelled or screamed or repeated admonitions to her child. That didn’t mean that she refrained from discipline. It only meant covert activities.

I was a ticklish child, anywhere and everywhere. From my head to my neck, along my spine and legs, especially on my feet, and even in my upper arms, the wrong {or right} touch could send me into convulsions of wiggles and giggles. Unfortunately, I never grew out of it. It isn’t exactly acceptable or fun to collapse into a heap of wheezing giggles at thirty, but such is life.

Mother can still send me into convulsions, but mostly of the get away, get off me, no I’m not in trouble variety. She had the glare down, and if that did not work, would firmly grab hold of my upper arm and take me to a private place for my dressing down. Somehow, her fingers unerringly found the precise spots to dig in without hurting every single time. It may not have hurt, but those bony pianist fingers of hers pushed through the tickling to disciplinary action.

The sheets had no fingers, but damn if they didn’t have my ankle in precisely the wrong hold. I lacked the patience to talk things through, cold, tired, damp, and still angry. I growled in return.

“No grabbing, then,” I repeated. “No touching, no stroking, and stay off me.”

“Agreed, poppet.” He seemed to have calmed. The sheets oozed away, giving me space as I gathered the duvet into a nest against the footboard of the bed. I felt safe enough.

In their slithering, the sheets languidly propped up against my pillows, slowly sliding into the shape of a man. I stared: crumples and folds formed into a forehead and eyebrows, sloped over shoulders, and twisted into the cords of muscular arms. The slash where a mouth would be on a human man twisted into a menacing smirk.

I imagined something bad had seeped into the teabags, or someone slipped something not at all chamomile into my new favorite blend. No other explanation for it, but I had always had odd dreams. I settled in and waited.

“What sort of explanation could you have for attacking me?” It was a dream, so the sort of behavior I’d never tolerate in real life had some leeway. In any case, how could I explain sheets that spoke and oozed into man shapes? My dearest friends already laughed and wondered how I could possibly sleep in such a way to get so tangled in my sheets, without any mention of nefarious ones attacking me. “I’ve done nothing at all to inspire an attack from my sheets, of all things.”

“You do not own me,” he grumbled. “I am more than these pitiful modern monstrosities masquerading as sheets.”

I completely lost my composure. This limp cloth-man-creature of my imagination sounded like a group of middle-aged women successfully shouting their independence from the rooftops.

“Do you read self-help books?” I mocked. “Do you need seven surprising tips on owning your future?” I asked between my giggles.

The folded smirk compressed into a pout, and the sheet shoulders hunched slightly.

“Helpful though they may not be, some would benefit from introspection.”

I’d like to say that his mournful voice sobered me immediately. It did not. Locked in my own mirth and still, frankly, convinced I sat in a dream, I continued to laugh. Whatever else he might prove to be, the phantom sheets did not react. Had I thought, I would have expected another violent outburst, what with his penchant for grabbing me and holding me down, and my own waking with him wrapped firmly around me. Those were apparently aberrations. He sat still and silent, patient until I settled.

“Are you prepared for an answer?” he said.

His tone reminded me of the first time I realized adults had an entirely separate language from children. It is a long story, involving puns and dirty words and the uncomfortable sensation of one’s grandmother helpless with laughter at one, instead of with one.

Instead of publicly shaming, my mother took me to her bedroom and kindly explained double meanings beyond sarcasm. Though quite young, I was already fluent in sarcasm. I was not fluent in anatomical slang, and I became quite irate that adults kept that sort of thing from kids, then laughed at them when they didn’t know any better. Being laughed at has always been one of my greatest fears.

Somehow, his tone now and my mother’s then were the same. I knew then as I knew sitting in a nest on my bed, having a dream conversation with my sheets in the shape of a man, that a door was about to be cracked open. I didn’t know what else I could learn as a fully fledged adult, but I supposed we never quite stop learning.

“What do you remember of your dream?”

“Aren’t you supposed to be offering an explanation?” I was in no mood for more distractions. I wanted answers, then sleep.

“Must you answer a question with another question?”

“Must you be so obtuse?”

“Must you be childish?”

“Fine,” I said. “It feels as though I remember everything, from waking in bed with a stranger, to a mouse, to a second, more improbable dream with a stuffed mouse.”

“Do you remember that handsome stranger in the bed you never wanted to leave?”

“If you mean the annoying stranger with the familiar voice from whose bed I leaped, yes, I do.”

If I could not stop laughing at him, he could not stop sighing at me.

“I grant you your apprehensions, sprite.” He seemed torn between enjoying the banter and looking for a way to move quickly through an unpleasant explanation. “It is better to know than wander in bewilderment.”

“You sometimes speak sense. Please continue. You are somehow the man in both of my dreams, I presume.”


“and your anger,” I verbally prodded. Sleep called, but not before an explanation. Too many questions swirled in my mind.

“Do you remember how you left your dream? What precisely you did as you returned to yourself?”

“A kiss,” I remembered.

Deadpan. “yes, a kiss.”

“ooh, someone was jealous,” I trilled, happy to be sure-footed again. “I’ve always wanted someone to be jealous,” I mused. “It’s powerful and joyous and just a little bit dark.”

I trailed off, thinking of how easy it is to measure one’s worth by the actions of others. That doesn’t make it fun, if others are not playing the game correctly to make one feel happy and wonderful, but when it works, it really, really works. It is a lot harder to feel fulfilled without the buoying effect of the affections of others. In the end, it is rather more fulfilling, but not easier. Never easier. This bit of seemingly outside reinforcement brought a quirked smile to be my face.

“Jealous!” he blustered. “Impossible. Poppycock. Nonsense.”

I puffed up further. Well, as much as one can wrapped in a duvet, tucked between the foot of a bed and a wall.

“Just the sort of reaction to be expected of a jealous man,” I taunted. “Not that your response was in any way appropriate,” I noted.

Cocksure and oblivious, I missed the slump and settle of his shoulders. He sighed.

“Do you remember in my bed, darling, when I told you a kiss would end our dreams?”

“After the pinching,” I nodded.

“Yes, well, kissing did end the dream.”

“Too true,” I replied.

“Your dream.”


Where could he be going with this, I wondered, and would it be over soon? Fun though it might be to banter with my sheets, none of this could help in solving my sleep problems. I was ready to be done, done with the nonsense, done with the wondering, and done with the magnificent voice currently bent on explaining something or other to me.

“and, so, your dream ended while mine continued,” he concluded. I suppose I missed part of the explanation, but when did men ever bother with the actual information until after a few minutes of dreary pre-explanation I already knew?

“Not jealous, then?” I asked, just to be clear.

“No, though I could have done without the only method of returning myself to my own bed.”

I began laughing uncontrollably, again. “Had to kiss my match, didn’t you?”

“I did,” he slumped.

“Wait,” I began.

“I shall forestall you,” he said. “It bothers me not whom anyone kisses, and,” here he preened, “I do no count myself amongst those whom any would flee rather than kiss, but your dream match is not precisely my type.”

“I continue to wonder at your anger, then,” I said.

“After your chicanery and rapid disappearance, do you not wonder who in your dreamscape would be left with a guilty countenance?”

This would be a night filled with laughter and a morning after with aching stomach muscles, I realized. “You were left holding the bag.”

“Not only that, but it takes rather more wooing than I have recently been accustomed to employ to finagle a kiss from the bereaved whilst under interrogation.”

“I do wish I had seen that.” I could not quite say it with a straight face.

He pouted, though it is still not quite clear to me precisely how a few folds of fabric could be so expressive.

“I no longer wonder at your anger,” I allowed. “Had I known the results, I wouldn’t have, ahem, left so abruptly.”

“You had no idea,” he asked, suddenly stern.

“None. I’ve been dreaming the oddest of dreams lately, without remembering them when I wake,” I explained. “How was I to know that a dream within a dream, with a few attractive men, wasn’t just a dream, but one I shared?”

“So there you have it,” he said with a sigh. “Your dreams are my dreams, and mine yours.”

“Then I should kiss you, and send you back to your own bed,” I suggested. I’m fairly certain that I’m right all the time and this was no exception. “I’ll sleep again, and you’ll be free,” I continued. “A quick kiss,” I cajoled.

If he really were that man in my dreams, he certainly belonged there. Handsome. The voice I could hear now solidified that. Delicious. Sign me up for a kiss, sheets and all. Hadn’t every girl practiced kissing with a pillow? This bit of cloth just happened to be sentient enough to kiss back.

I was quite thrilled with my brilliant solution. A kiss and everyone’s life back to normal. No more grabbing, no more tangled sheets. This man could return to his happy little stone room with the rushes and Randolph, and probably some pleasant ladies-in-waiting or curious chambermaids, hunts, feasts, and whatever else pseudo-medieval castle dwellers did in their spare time.

I didn’t pay much attention in my sleepy euphoria, just crawled forward towards the pillows. He still lounged there, smirking with just the corner of the sheet.

“It won’t do much good, poppet.”

“It’ll do some good,” I responded with a raised eyebrow.

“I miss that,” he sighed.

I stopped, momentarily distracted. I tilted my head, thoughtfully.

“Expressiveness,” he said.

“oh, you do alright.” I continued forward, not paying much attention to his quiet tensing and missing the point entirely. He hadn’t said no, and I had, distressingly, forgotten that not saying no doesn’t mean yes. I laid a small kiss on unresisting sheets and fell forward with a grunt as they melted entirely beneath me.

“See, Pepper, I knew I was right.” I crawled under the slack sheets, bringing my blanket with me. No more nonsense, I thought. Just sleep. I snuggled deeper into my pillows, barely noticing the edge of the sheet that crept gently over my shoulder and patted my collarbone comfortingly, if a bit condescendingly.


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