"Sleeping alone tonight?" Norman's pillow asked.
"Do you see anybody else here?" Norman stretched his arm across the bed.
"I don't want to talk about it. I just want to get some sleep."
"Sure," the pillow said as Norman sunk his hard head into its soft, feather-filled middle.
Norman felt the arms of sleep opening to him.
"She broke up with you, didn't she?" The pillow's voice caused Sleep to push Norman away.
"She didn't break up with me," Norman informed his pillow, "She wants to take a little break."
"Oh," the pillow said in an understanding tone.
Norman fluffed it.
"So she dumped you," the pillow concluded.
"One more word out of you," Norman threatened, "and you'll find yourself on the living room couch."
"Okay, okay." The pillow knew when Norman meant business.
"Now let me get some sleep."
"Good night then."
Norman wondered if most people's pillows talked to them. Ever since he had bought this pillow at a department store, it held nightly conversations with him.
Coincidentally, that was about the same time he started dating Ellen. The pillow never spoke when Ellen spent the night; Norman assumed it was being polite. It also never spoke any other time of the day—only when Norman lay in bed.
It first told Norman how wonderful he thought Ellen was. Norman agreed that after years of searching, he had finally found "the one."
But she didn't want to take the next step, whether it be marriage or living together. The more Norman pressed, the more she pulled away.
And the previous night, she'd pulled away for good.
Norman missed talking to her at night. When all the lights were out, they would hold each other's naked bodies and talk about the most inane things with utter fascination.
"Do plants dream?" she once asked him.
"I always wanted to order a pizza and have it delivered to a movie theater," he told her.
"I would love to go to a party in a tuxedo one time," she admitted.
"I think somewhere deep in space there's a planet just like ours where everything runs backwards," he theorized.
And night after night they would chat on and on, always interested in what the other had to say.
"Did you talk to her today?" the pillow asked on the second night without Ellen.
They had gone many nights without Ellen in the bed when they were dating. She rarely stayed over on a weeknight, since they both worked in different parts of town.
When Norman was alone, he would tell his pillow, "I love Ellen so much."
"That's obvious," the pillow replied politely, "And she loves you, too."
"She is great, isn't she?"
But tonight was Saturday night, and Norman informed his pillow he did not call her.
"I'm going to wait for her to call me," he added.
"You think she will?" the pillow asked.
"I don't know," Norman replied, "Now be quiet and let me get some sleep."
But they both knew he didn't have to get up the next morning. It would not be like other Sunday mornings when he and Ellen would go out to breakfast and then sit in a cafe and read the Sunday paper.
The paper would go unread that weekend.
Norman broke down and called her. But she didn't pick up the phone.
Nor did she return his call.
"Why don't you call her again?" the pillow asked.
"I called her once," Norman said, "and she never called back."
"Maybe there was a problem with her machine."
"If she really wanted to talk to me," Norman admitted to himself, "she'd call."
There were plenty of women out there: in clubs, in personal ads, on the internet. Norman had to face the fact that it was over between him and Ellen and it was time to start all over again.
The girls he dated were nothing like Ellen. Either they were mentally stimulating but passionless, or very sensual but dumb as nails.
Still, they were easily persuaded into his bedroom. And after a bit of awkward lovemaking, they would spend the night.
"That was wonderful," a woman named Babet said after one Friday night frolic.
"Thank you," Norman replied. "You weren't so bad yourself."
"I bet she wasn't better than Ellen," the pillow said.
"What did you say?" the woman asked.
"Nothing," Norman quickly responded and punched his pillow.
"I said you probably weren't as good as Ellen," the pillow repeated, louder this time.
"Shut up!" Norman snapped.
"Don't tell me to shut up!" the woman exclaimed.
"I wasn't talking to you," Norman said, "I was talking to my pillow."
"Yeah," Norman said, assuming this was a common place event.
"I think I better leave," the woman said.
"I think you should, too," the pillow agreed.
"Fine!" the woman huffed and quickly dressed.
Norman said nothing as he watched her go.
The moment he heard his front door slam he told his pillow, "That wasn't very nice of you."
"I think you can do better than her."
"Well, Ellen is gone."
"Get her back."
"If she wants to come back, she has to make the next move."
"Don't play that game."
"I will," Norman said confidently. "And there's nothing you can do about it."
With that, he rolled over to the other pillow and fell asleep.
A few weeks later, Norman found another girl to bring home. Her name was Mindy, and she was not the most interesting person, but she was very beautiful.
After making love, he turned off the lights and put his arms around her. She pushed him away.
"What's you favorite bird?" he asked her.
"I hate birds," she said. "They poop on my car."
"Oh." Norman wasn't expecting that. "Do you like turtles?"
"Turtles? When do I ever come across turtles?"
"What do you like?"
"I dunno. What do you care?"
"I want to get to know you."
"I like to know the woman I'm dating."
"Dating? We're not dating."
"But we were on a date and then we..."
"Doesn't mean we're dating."
"Then what does it mean, you idiot?" Norman's pillow snapped.
"Don't you start in on this," Norman snapped back.
"Who are you talking to?" Mindy asked.
"I don't like pillows either."
"You better get out of here," the pillow said, "before I smother you."
"Be nice," Norman told his pillow.
"Smother me?" The woman leapt up in the darkness. "You're crazy!"
She grabbed her clothes and ran naked out of Norman's house.
"What are you doing, Norman?" the pillow asked.
Norman took the pillow off his bed and unzipped its side.
"I don't think you want to do this, Norman," his pillow said.
Norman pulled out all its feathers and left them all over the floor. Then he tossed the pillow's empty body into the corner.
He went into the living room, flipped on the television and watched infomercials until he fell asleep on the couch.
The next night, Norman went to the apartment of a girl whom he had dated a few times before Mindy. He knew she wouldn't mind him spending the night, since his pillow had never acted up around her.
"I like to play Enya to put me to sleep," she told him.
For hours, Norman tossed and turned to the sounds of Celtic wails. When he couldn't take it any longer he got out of bed, got dressed and went home.
He restuffed the pillow and got into bed.
"Are you going to call Ellen tomorrow?" it asked.
"You know why."
"You're making a mistake."
"I don't want to talk about Ellen."
"Okay." The pillow fell silent.
"I want to talk about something else," Norman said.
"Ivy?" The pillow was surprised. "Not much to say there."
"Do you prefer clinging or poison?"
"Hmmm..." The pillow thought about it. "Clinging."
"Because it defies gravity. How about you?"
"Because it sounds dangerous."
"True," the pillow agreed.
And they chatted into the night.
Copyright © 2003 Thomas J. Misuraca