Sweaty Duvet

Sweaty Duvet


Yvonne Popplewell


Today she is not getting out of bed. She is not lazy. She’s not tired. She’s not interested in sex. There’s no one else in her bed. She’s not heartbroken and she doesn’t have a cold. Still, she is not getting out of bed.

There's a part of her that knows she should get out of bed. Getting out of bed is an important part of the whole living experience. It sort of kickstarts the ability to do things.

She doesn’t even like bed all that much, but she is there and she doesn’t remember how to move.

She’s missed her alarm. Her routine has been interrupted. She should have left the house an hour ago. She hasn’t left her bed. She’s not going to. There’s no argument, no negotiations. She’s not getting out of bed. It’s a fact.

Her skin is sweating. It’s too hot for the duvet but she can’t let go. It’s all that’s keeping her skin attached to her body. Without it, parts of her might float away and she would fall apart alone in her bed. She can handle the sweat.

People are talking outside the window. She can’t make out the words but she assumes they're talking about her. Discussing her failure to complete the simplest task. "She can’t get out of bed," they whisper to each other.

She berates herself for narcissism; they are not talking about her. No one is talking about her. She’s not worth talking about. She’s not worth noticing. She may as well stay in her bed, trapped under the sweat-drenched duvet cover.

There’s an itch somewhere on her body. She scratches her shoulder, her stomach, her ankle. It keeps moving, running from her hand. She keeps scratching until she breaks the skin. There’s blood under her fingernails and it still itches, somewhere.

She has to move. She has to move or she might stop breathing. She’ll forget how to breathe, like she forgot how to eat, and sleep, and live.

She’ll forget herself under a sweaty duvet.

The mattress feels like it’s fused to her skin. She can’t tell where she ends and bed begins. It’s bigger than she remembers; it feels like a desert waiting to be crossed without water, without food, without herself.

It seems insurmountable. She doesn’t know how anyone does it, but she knows they do and that makes it so much worse. She is stuck where the world succeeds. She is challenged by something most people don’t even notice.

All she has to do is move. She could roll, she could slide, she could wriggle. Anything. She simply has to move or she will be crushed by the impossibility of everything. It’s all too much and she is not enough.

It’s like lifting a car with her pinky, but she finds something somewhere. Just enough to rise off the mattress and feel her feet on the floor. It’s terrifying, paralyzing. Every instinct she has left is telling her to stop, to lie back down, to return to the safety of that sweaty duvet.

She can’t, though. She has to stand. She does. She stands. She feels naked, alone, lost. Like she’s never been here before even though it’s her bedroom. She’s spent more time there than she’s spent anywhere else.

Tasks are swimming around her mind, a to-do list so long she can’t see the bottom of it. She can’t think about that; it will only send her crawling back. She wasn’t going to get out of bed today, but she has. She did.

Showering seems like the easiest task, but it feels like there’s a cavern between her and the bathroom.

She walks, one step at a time. Berating herself for taking so long to complete something so simple.

It’s hard, it’s almost impossibly hard, but she makes it to the shower, reveling in the feel of water rushing past her ears. Her skin, so sweaty, plagued by random pains and itches, almost feels normal under the stream.

She wishes she could reward herself, wishes she could be happy with her achievements. But the challenges she surmounted feel petty from the comfort of the shower. She should have been able to get out of bed. She didn’t want to get out of bed.

She hates that she got out of bed. She hates that she didn’t want to. She hates the world. And the shower. And her sweaty duvet. She hates it all and she hates herself.

She wasn’t going to get out of bed today but she did. She will never acknowledge her own power but she managed something her mind, her body, told her was impossible.

She wasn’t going to get out of bed today but she did. She did.



Yvonne Popplewell is an award-winning Australian short story writer who blogs about pop culture in her spare time. She's currently working on her first novel. Yvonne lives in Copacabana (not the one in Rio) with a life-size cardboard cut-out of One Direction.

Illustrated By Meghan Murphy.



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