For 5 nights Lawrence had to sleep on his side so that he wouldn’t choke on his own spit. His neck was stiff, his cheeks swollen, and the left side of his face barely moving. When Lawrence went to work the first day he was noticeably ill, he tried making a Phantom of the Opera joke, but he couldn’t decide which side to put the mask over; at which point he decided to go to the hospital.
“Fallopian Neuritis, also known as Bell’s paralysis, or I Sleep With The Fucking Fan Too Close To My Goddamn Face Syndrome!” Though it didn’t sound like that when Lawrence tried joking with coworkers, it sounded more like:
fhullopien neuritish (futilely sucks back spit from the sides of his mouth) alsho known ash Bell’sh (sucks in again, meekly swallows) shorry. Bell’sh Paralyshish (spit bubble on the side of his mouth, spit dripping onto his shirt)
…it went on like that for a while. One thing was for sure, Lawrencsh (sorry) Lawrence was in bad shape. But it was true! Lawrence did sleep with the fucking fan too close to his goddamn face! In fact, he slept with it inches away, it dropped on his head multiple times a night until he duct taped it to the sheets. It was close enough to lick, though Lawrence could never. Lawrence loved the wind blowing on his face, it was the only peace he really felt after his long shifts as a delivery truck driver. His fan wasn’t very loud, and it reminded him of leaves rustling, other times right back to his bullshit job, but then he’d force the blades to rustle in his mind, himself to relax. He had only discovered his fanbed a month ago from July heat desperation, with it discovered its ability to give Lawrence his dreams back. It was love at first switch.
Lawrence had been swollen for 3 nights without a fan, doctor’s orders, and hadn’t slept a minute. No work dreams. No leaves. Just silent darkness.
“ooh ma gahchhh” Without people around, Lawrence had no reason to pronounce his words entirely, or coherently; just so long as he got them out into the world, a tiny part of his pain left with them.
He tried not to think about it, but he missed his fanbed. He’d become so reliant on it over the past month that he couldn’t sleep at all without the damn thing. When he closed his eyes, all Lawrence saw was himself behind the wheel, or scanning packages, or stacking them into his truck. It was tough, long work that again invaded his dreams. The fan saved him from work, gave him back some sense of freedom. Some mornings he’d wake up with both arms wrapped around it with his face pressed against the grates, but it was gone now.
“Pleasch…” Lawrence trailed off, his pillow drenched with spit and unswallowed Newcastle. He wrestled with the idea of turning the fan on, but he didn’t do it. At around 4 in the morning last night, he went so far as having the fan in position and duct tape in his hand. He’d blame it on the paralysis, but a few tears of sadness rolled down his limp face when he decided not to turn it on and laid the fan back on the pillow next to him and pulled up the covers.
The cocktail of 4 nights’ sleep deprivation, a stiff, swollen neck, and a barely functional face had driven Lawrence off the deep end. He realized he was in love with his fan; without it by his side, he saw no reason to live.
“I jusht want peacsh.” He slurredly cried under tear streams.
He had to do it, there was no other option. Lawrence sat on his bed, positioned his lover between the square shaped worn cotton, and grabbed the duct tape from under his pillow. Each rip of the unrolling tape brought Lawrence closer to serenity, he was frantic. He caught a laugh halfway through, looked around his empty room, and felt a bit weird about himself … but he kept ripping and pressing anyway.
Lawrence rested his head on his pillow facing the fan’s delicate blades, its softly vibrating metal base. He switched it to “On” and the first twists of the blades almost put him to sleep immediately. He had to stay awake just a little longer, just enough to know he was dreaming his own dream. He stared through squinted eyes at the fan, eyeing it up and down affectionately as it blew slightly less warm air into his face. Lawrence thought about it for a bit but was hesitant, he couldn’t. He sucked back his saliva, sticking his tongue out and towards the fan’s warm base. It wasn’t more than a slow lick, but it was enough to satisfy Lawrence and send him sailing into thoughts of rustling leaves, autumn, the fan, and finally deep into his own imagination.
The next morning, Lawrence’s Fallopian Neuritis became increasingly worse, his entire face had ballooned, and his doctor prescribed him sleeping pills in addition to his pain relievers, which did very little. His face cleared up and resumed working status a month and a half later, and he was back to his old, hardworking self. Lawrence hid the fan in the back of his closet, under some sheets and blankets, and tried not to think about that night so much. Dreaming about work wasn’t the worst thing in the world …