Convincing the Day It Exists by Russ Bickerstaff

I always have such a tremendous difficulty getting out of bed. The first thing I do every morning is convince my dreaming self that I exist. I really have no idea how long it takes because I really have no concept of time without being able to fully interact with the world around me. I only know that it FEELS like it takes a lot of time. Even when I convince myself that I exist, I have to deal with the fact that I have to convince myself that the world outside exists. That’s considerably more difficult than proving that I exist. (I’ve tried. Believe me. After decades that might have been days, I’m still not entirely convinced.) It’s still the morning as I try to get myself to accept the possibility that I might exist so I try to keep my arguments for existence as simple as possible as I pass into a basic understanding that there’s a world and I am in a bed in that world I’m going to need to get out of it.

By the time that I’ve decided that I need to get out of bed, it’s already felt like kind of a long day, but my morning is far from over at that stage. Fully awake and in bed, I have to get the bed to wake-up enough to let me out of it. (Did I mention my bed was sleeps? It’s true. The salesman at the store told me the mattress was a “Perfect Sleeper,” but I guess I just sort of thought that was a marketing designation. I was wrong.) This isn’t easy to jostle the bed out of sleep. If I wake the bed-up too much or too quickly, it’ll freeze and seize itself around me and try to snuggle-in, which involves an even deeper embrace from the bed. The bed is then even more difficult to get out of, which can have the tendency of putting me right back to sleep. Then I have to start the whole process all over again, which is tedious. There is no telling how many days I’ve gone through in the process of waking-up my bed.

Finally out of the bed, I feel the need to reassure the floor of the bedroom that my body will respond to the gravity in the room. This is not an easy thing as my feet are often reluctant to welcome the floor. Once my feet have firmly been acquainted with the floor under the influence of the room’s gravity, I start toying with the idea of momentum and locomotion. It’s not an easy thing to get to. At this stage much of the bedroom is still in that dreamy haze of sleep as I’m trying to make my way to the door to the hallway beyond. I always feel just a bit reassured by the long and tedious routine of getting the bedroom to acknowledge the fact that I’m getting ready to leave.

Once the bedroom has been danced with in the haziness of morning, I can often manage to make it far enough away from my bed to make it out the door and into the hallway. This isn’t always the easiest thing to manage. Quite often the whole process awakens that bed. It lunges and grabs hold of me in a passionately selfish embrace and once again I am forced to start over. Leaving the bedroom can sometimes feel as though it takes the better part of year what with all the many trip-ups and failures that can occur over the course of a morning. (Thankfully time hasn’t quite settled-in at that stage and I am neither aging nor missing work nor running behind because time itself generally doesn’t wake-up completely until I’m out the door and well on my way to work.)

When I head out the door of the bedroom, I gently reassure the hallway that everything will be fine and that it is perfectly okay to bring me to the bathroom. It’s not always easy to convince the hallway that it needs to go anywhere at all. It’s still only vaguely certain of its ability to go anywhere at all at this stage in the morning. The hallway itself only has a vague conception of what it might be like to actually be present in any kind of time at all, so I have to convince it that one moment really DOES follow the next as time moves forward. I guess I feel as though I need to convince it that there’s something more in the nature of the morning than its own hazy dreams of being something less definite.

Somewhere in the gentle passage of one footfall flowing into the next, the hallway begins to understand that I’m trying to coax it into the bathroom. That’s more or less when hardwood spills out into the tile flooring of the bathroom. I feel like I’ve accomplished something at this stage, but it can so often be so difficult to convince the bathroom of the concept of water once I get there. By this time it’s really a matter of leading by example. . . not to get vulgar or anything, but once I get going it follows my lead and I’m able to relieve myself before addressing the small matter of a shower.

The water spills out over me. The water splashes all over me in its progression from cold to warmth to outright heat. A towel is soon welcomed which comes to embrace the water. The water leaves me to join the towel. I then consider the long process of convincing clothing that it can welcome me as well. Then it’s off to welcome the day in the dawn as I make it off into a day that needs some convincing in order to exist. By the time I’m finished with that much, it’s time to return home again and forget it all as I step into the gentle amnesia of dream.

Russ Bickerstaff is a professional theatre critic and aspiring author living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with his wife and two daughters. His short fictions have appeared in over 30 different publications including Hypertext Magazine, Pulp Metal Magazine, Sein und Werden, and Beyond Imagination.