Wet Beds on a Freezing Night: A short story
Mama's winter night warning
Maddie Mae threw her flannel nightgown on over her long johns at lightening speed. Following, she pulled on her night cap and dove beneath the down covers of her bed. The room she shared with her twin sister Maggie, was frigid on this South Dakota winter night. Maggie was already snuggled down and quiet in the twin bed across from Maddie Mae's. Buster, their shaggy eared dog, lay on the throw rug between their beds. Mama came in with hot water bottles for them both and they pulled them under their covers to keep warm for at least a few hours.
"Alright now, girls, you see to it you stay dry tonight. This is not the type of night you want to wake up wet," Mama warned. "Now, say your prayers. No need to get out of bed, the Lord knows it's cold. Say them from where you're at and He'll hear you just fine."
In unison the girls prayed "Dear Lord, thank you for Mama, Daddy, sister and Buster. Bless them all. In Jesus name, amen."
Mama kissed their cold cheeks and turned the lantern down low. "Goodnight girls."
"Night Mama," said the girls together.
When they heard the click of the door closing, Maddie Mae lifted her head off the pillow and spoke, "Maggie, you pee your bed tonight, don't you even think of getting in my bed. It's cold enough as it is."
There was no response. Maddie Mae knew her sister was pretending to be asleep. It was too cold and she was too sleepy to take it any further. Soon the room was filled with soft, even breathing and the small flickering flame in the lantern.
Maggie's damp awakening
The snow fell softly and steadily as the O'Connor family slept. Buster had crawled onto Maddie Mae's bed, keeping her extra warm that night. His contented snores brought an extra measure of peace to the room. Maggie stirred a bit, then settled back down. Buster looked up sensing her unrest. Maggie shivered and turned over. Then her eyes opened wide and her body convulsed with a bitter chill. "Not again," she whispered through gritted teeth. She had lain in her wet bed awhile because the urine was no longer warm. Her body felt clammy and frozen. Wanting to be warm and dry was her utmost desire, but it required her to get out of bed, strip off her wet bedclothes, put on fresh ones, and change her sheets in the arctic air. She lay there trying to muster up the will power to get up and clean up. But the misery she felt in her bed paled in comparison to what she would feel when she got up to change.
She considered how fast she might accomplish these steps to getting back to a warm and dry environment. She gauged she could get out of her wet nightgown and long johns in about 20 seconds or less if her arms and legs worked well enough in the cold. Wet clothes stick to the body and it becomes a greater challenge. Probably she could slip on the new, dry bedclothes in less time. But the sheets, oh dear, the sheets would take forever. But there was no way out of this. "One, two, three, go!" she said, leaping out of bed like a jack in the box. She whipped off the nightie in just a second or two, but getting the wet long john's off swiftly did not go smoothly. They clung to her icy legs and her fingers were stiff and nearly non-functional. She nearly fell trying to tug off one leg. Now the other leg. After an interminable struggle, the wet clothing was off. Mama had left a clean nightgown on the end of the bed, just in case, but no long johns. She snagged the nightgown and slipped it over her head with the swiftness and speed of a gazelle. Then she ran to her dresser and searched for another pair of long johns. 'Where are they? They should be right here,' she thought. She had put them there the previous day after folding the laundry. She was struck by the thought in that moment, that perhaps Maddie Mae had taken them, and either hidden them, or put them on over her own pair to keep herself extra warm.
By this time she was running in place trying to keep warm; but it was futile. She grabbed a pair of warm stockings and tiptoed over to where Maddie Mae and Buster were sleeping warmly and soundly. She gave Buster a good nudge and he moved over to the other side of Maddie Mae. He circled a few times and settled down, but he kept his curious eyes on Maggie. Maddie Mae was used to Buster moving around during the night so she did not awaken, but stirred slightly and settled. Maggie lifted the covers up ever so slightly and slipped in as slowly and quietly as she could. It took an enormous amount of restraint not to shove her sister over and jump in to get warm fast. Going slow was agonizing in the cold. Soon, though, Maggie was spooning Maddie Mae, who seemed to enjoy the warmth without stirring. Buster realized the show was over and laid his head down with a sigh. Soon the room returned to silence, warmth and deep dreams.
It wasn't me!
Maddie Mae's damp awakening
An hour later, it was Maddie Mae's eyes that suddenly opened wide, straight out of a dead sleep. She felt a warm liquid spreading rapidly underneath her. But she felt no sensation of peeing. Then it registered. "Maggie Lucille O'Connor, how dare you get in my bed and pee all over me. Get up you bed pee-er you!" She sat up and wailed and pummeled her sister's slumbering body through the thick down covers. It did little good. Buster bolted in terror and watched the show from a corner of the room. The hollering and blows finally pierced through Maggie's dreamy fog and she woke up. Holding out an arm to protect herself from Maddie Mae's blows, she returned fire. "How dare you accuse me of peeing in your bed. It was Buster that did it. Get your hands off me you crazy lunatic. You belong in an asylum."
"Buster? It wasn't Buster Maggie Lucille, and you know it. His side of the bed is dry, see here," she said patting where Buster had lain.
Soon they were on the floor rolling, punching, pulling hair, and name calling. They were so involved they failed to hear Mama and Daddy's footsteps coming toward their room from the hall. Daddy was in the lead when they burst into the room with a brightly lit lantern.
"What the Sam Hill are you two doing?" said Daddy. He handed the lantern to Mama and struggled to get the girls separated. "Maddie Mae get your hands off...Maggie Lucille stop your...Mama, you best set the lantern down and help me out."
Buster was now back up on the bed, running back and forth across it barking. Mama and Daddy each grabbed a girl by the nape of their gowns and separated them. Maddie Mae was struggling to get back at Maggie, but Daddy had her firm. Maggie turned on the water works, crying out, "Maddie Mae attacked me in my sleep. She accused me of peeing on her and it was Buster. Look what she did to me?" she said, baring her forearm to show bleeding scratches.
"Why you little..." Maddie Mae said threateningly.
"Alright. Knock it off right now," Daddy said firmly. "Now let's clean up these beds and get back to sleep. We'll deal with this in the morning."
Maddie Mae split the ears of her family, screaming, "I'll be dad blamed if I'm going to clean up her mess."
"It isn't my mess, it's Buster's," said Maggie defensively.
Mama gave each girl a fresh gown, a pair of hers and Daddy's long johns, and a stack of sheets and blankets, and put them to work. There were snide remarks under their breath, and dirty looks between them, but they were soon changed and the beds made. Maggie was quick to point out to Mama and Daddy that Maddie Mae had indeed stolen the long johns she had put away just the morning before and wore them to bed over her own pair.
"It doesn't matter right this minute. You two get into bed. We're all gonna catch our death," warned Mama. "Good night."
Daddy made it clear he would not tolerate any more shenanigans, "I hear one word out of either of you and I'm coming in with a switch. Go to sleep."
Daddy grabbed Mama by one hand, and held the lantern with the other, and led her back to bed. Buster shook his shaggy head and regarded the two beds. He made his choice. Maggie was the least violent. He snuggled up against her back and promptly went to sleep.
The room was dark, the snow had ceased falling, and the cold bore through their blankets as they sniveled, sighed, and shivered. But they remained silent. In a few minutes, Mama came in with two new hot water bottles, knowing that the blankets the girls now had on their beds were not as adequate as the down comforters. She dreaded the morning having to clean them. The girls were going to help, that was for sure.
The girls thanked Mama and curled up snuggly to their water bottles. They vowed inside themselves to get revenge on the other the next day. But their plans drifted away with their consciousness, and they slept before finalizing their plans.
Mama's winter warning to Daddy
Mama and Daddy spooned in the night, vowing their revenge as well. No liquids for the girls after 3 p.m., and they would be scrubbing and cleaning all the live long day after breakfast in the morning. Daddy nuzzled Mama's neck, his warm breath seeped into her chilly body. "G'night, hon," she sighed. "You pee on me and your dead."
Laughter split the night.
© 2013. Lori Colbo. All rights reserved.
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