Flash Fiction by Sophie Nunberg
He was insecure about the things he could not really control: his male pattern baldness, the red hair that grew only on his little toe, and his snoring.
He loved his wife, very much, and he hated how his droning nighttime noises kept her from rest and fantasy. She had tried waxy earplugs or playing their record player at night but the former was easily penetrated by his incessant noises and the latter kept their children awake.
His noises filled the room, ricocheting off of her vanity and his small bookshelf, pillaging the sleep that rested in her overly sensitive ears. Most mornings, when he finally awoke and saw the skin under her eyes irritated, swollen, his neck flushed red. He was always exceedingly apologetic, often bringing home flowers or small gifts. But it was difficult to compensate for the something he took from her each night.
They saw doctors, who took samples, weighed him and then examined his nose and lungs but never asked about anything other than allergies. Her next-door neighbor had told her, casserole cocked on her hip, about nasal strips that her husband has purchased during a business trip to Japan. His friends were no help. Hers gave diet recommendations over a card game or the pews of their church.
And though she loved him, too, very much, she had never known the depths of her love for uninterrupted rest, for sleep without caveats. Even when he slept on the couch, his snores vibrated in the floorboards, rattling her awake. For their seventh anniversary, he carpeted the entire house. But his noises scraped across the loops of soft fabric, always finding their way back to her.
Doctors gave her baby-blue chalky pills whose middles had been hollowed and whose results were hallowed. She slept but too heavily, too close to death.
She gave birth a couple of times and each time, for a while, things got better. She told him that lack of sleep was not overbearing when her deprivation had purpose.
But the purpose waned and their children grew and she could not bear the unrelenting reliability of his disturbances. She could not bear the solitude of night, their bedroom too dark for her to read, the world too abandoned, her company only his violent susurration. The world’s weight pressing down upon her but she could not push back.
When she left, she told him it was for another man, not a new bedroom, new mattress and delightfully quiet sleep.
Sophie Nunberg graduated from the University of Chicago in 2012. She lives in San Francisco and is the Communications & Content Manager for the anti-trafficking division of the Alameda District Attorney’s office. She previously interned for McSweeney’s. In her free time she manages and edits a music blog that currently has over 350,000 followers.
Image, Solar Eclipse III, courtesy of Superfamous.
Also published on Medium.