In the movies when someone drugs someone’s glass of wine to put him to sleep for a convenient period it’s a swift twist of the wrist, a deft substitution with no visible prologue. Where on earth do they get the stuff? They always seem to know exactly what to use and have it just sitting around the house and know the correct dosage—not too much, not too little—and how much stirring or shaking it needs and so on and so forth. Maybe she was just a perfectionist or a coward but for her, this whole thing required a huge amount of research, and also an appeal to a business in a developing nation with fewer scruples about selling sleeping potions in a convenient powdered, easily dissolvable form.
the over-under on a moonless night
In the end it went so smoothly that she was shocked, the way she always used to be shocked when she studied for an exam for three days and then got an A, as if that were some kind of miracle instead of night following day. She served pasta and wine and a schedule II drug and when he said he was suddenly terribly sleepy, she suggested, winkingly, that in that case they should certainly go to bed. By the time they were upstairs he was too sleepy to get undressed and she said she would undress him. Wink, wink! She did, too, and it’s not easy to undress a grown man who’s in a drugged sleep, but she figured if he were naked he’d be less likely to go running outside if he happened to wake at an inconvenient time.
what if tomorrow
isn’t tomorrow enough
She ascertained that he was breathing steadily and had a regular heartbeat, then pulled the blankets up over him tenderly and lay on top of the blankets herself, fully clothed, fully awake, fully aware of her sins, and put an arm over his chest so she would notice if it ceased to rise and fall, a cheek against his shoulder so she would feel it if it started to grow cold. Of course she would have called for help if it were necessary. Don’t ever think that of her. But it wasn’t necessary. She lay facing the window, looking out at the darkest night of the month, breathing, feeling how unusual and complex was the phenomenon of respiration, and at two o’clock she heard the barn door creak open, and at two-oh-one she felt the earth began to shake, and at two-oh-three the darkness momentarily became even darker as the giant, passing by her window, blotted out the thin beams of light from the stars.
just once I’d like to see your face when the owl