Wrong Side Of The Bed
A Badtime Story
Bedtime took longer than usual that night. Several chains had to be replaced and some of the inhabitants of the third floor had been wrongly forgiven. As a consequence, when all was done and dusted, Jacob and Jacob were quite tired out.
“Chapter seven tonight, please,” said Jacob.
“Seven?” Nurse Mariam exclaimed. “Are you sure?”
The other Jacob looked at his elder brother and snarled.
“Very well,” said Nurse Mariam, pulling a black cloth from her pocket.
Chapter seven did not take long to read and the twins soon found their hearts beating like dehydrated plums. This made them smile, revealing those awful teeth.
“We promise to sleep all through the night,” said Jacob.
“And to not get out of bed,” said Jacob. His brother dug an elbow into his ribs but both boys wore the sort of smile a mortician might make had she grown bored half way through her work.
Nurse Mariam patted both boys on the head and fixed them with a stare. “Just be sure,” she said, “not to get out on the wrong side of the bed.”
And then she bolted the door behind her after extinguishing the lamps and touching the portrait of the failed sibling as she went.
“Chapter seven?” said Jacob.
“I took the black cloth,” said Jacob.
“Ah,” said Jacob. “Clever.”
Jacob sat up, wormed his way out the bed sheet and then produced the black cloth.
“Floor,” said Jacob.
“Yes,” said Jacob.
The twins crawled to the edge of the bed, one hand in front of the other as though they were clawing their way out of Hell. Jacob reached the edge first and was about to spill himself over when he felt a hand on his ankle.
“Wait,” said his brother. “That might be the wrong side of the bed.”
“Yes,” said Jacob.
Once again the twins crawled and made their way to another edge. Jacob chortled and threw his top half over. A hand caught him, preventing him from reaching the floor but causing him to bang his face on the metal bed frame.
“Tooth,” said Jacob.
His brother helped him up and they both looked to the final side of the bed, partially blocked by the story pulpit. They grinned and headed for it, churning up the top sheet as they moved and dropping the black cloth in the process.
Together the twins swung their legs under their bodies and over the bed. They had almost reached the floor when each felt a hand on his neck, holding them rigid.
The last thing Jacob and Jacob remembered that night was being pulled back onto the bed where they remained, motionless, until the first screams of morning.
They did not see Nurse Mariam’s arms slip back through the black cloth, folding it away as she went.
And they did not get out of the wrong side of the bed.
Which is very fortunate for all of us.
Illustration © 2017 Carl Pugh