Saturday, January 18, 2014


It’s not every night that one goes to bed with the promise of dragons tomorrow, but this was such a night. In the dark of early morning I lay awake in bed, thinking of hobbits and adventurous dwarves and the two long-anticipated-movie tickets safely nestled in my wallet on the kitchen counter. For more than an hour, I’d lain there using my phone to read Tolkien trivia and look at hobbit-hole floor plans, listening to my husband’s even breathing next to me. Now I had only to wait another ten hours for the show.

With a sigh, I put the phone on the nightstand, flipping my pillow over to the still-cold side and burying my face in it. Still, sleep would not come. Then I remembered: Hadn’t I heard something about a meteor shower? I checked the phone again. Yes, the Geminid shower, occurring tonight from dusk to dawn but only visible after moonset, just after four, local time. It was 3:59 already.

 “It will be an adventure,” I thought as the wind howled outside. “I can tell Matt about it in the morning.” Determined not to wake him, I slipped from the covers in the dark and crept, like a ninja, toward my bathrobe in the closet, cursing under my breath as I tripped over my shoes in a most un-ninja-like fashion.

In a voice as clear as though he himself had been lying awake and needed only this excuse to remedy his own boredom, Matt said, “What on earth are you doing?”

“Couldn't sleep,” I said, “and there's meant to be a meteor shower.”

“Say no more.” He threw the covers aside and reached for his workout sweats. I fetched my robe and his from the closet, stepping into my fuzzy slippers for good measure. Tying my sash as we walked down the hall, I said “It's been going all night but the news said it wouldn't be visible until the moon set at four.”

“You have good timing then.”

“I've been awake since two at least.”

In the kitchen, I heated water for tea as Matt lit the propane stand-heater on the back porch. When the heater glowed with blue flames, Matt came back inside, shivering. “It's cold!” he said, heading for the coat closet.

“Twenty five degrees when last I checked,” I said, keeping my voice low although there was no one else in the house who might have been disturbed. “Thus the tea.”

A few minutes later, we stood on the porch, gasping against the wind. Bundled in our thickest coats, over bathrobes, over pajamas, I cupped my hands around the ceramic mug, the air leaching the heat from my freshly brewed tea, as Matt fiddled with the settings on the heater. Only then did we look up at the completely overcast sky.

“Well,” Matt said, clucking his tongue the way the repairmen at the garage do before they tell me how much my tune-up will cost. “Which direction is it in?”

“Over by the constellation Gemini,” I said.

We both looked around at the constellation Cloud Cover, stretching from horizon to horizon, a solid blanket of gray-green rather than the inky black of sky.

“It's okay,” I said. “I couldn't pick Gemini out of a lineup anyway.”

“So,” said Matt, wrapping an arm around me as we huddled under the heater. The flames coming out of the top more than a foot above Matt’s head whipped furiously in the wind, their heat not reaching the lowly peasants on the porch below. “How you feeling about life lately?”

“Pretty good,” I said, sipping tea.

We chatted about bosses and holiday plans and video games, and looked at the cloudy dark sky in the hopes of seeing more than cloudy darkness.

“Tea's gone cold,” I said, eventually.

“Couldn't be expected to stand up to this wind.”

“Want to go in and light a fire?”

“I thought you'd never ask.”

After reheating my tea, I perched beside my husband on the ottoman in front of the fireplace, slippers off and feet propped close to the flames. We shared a blanket, though I had two others all to myself. “So much for having an adventure,” I said.

Matt nodded. “It's too bad about the weather.”

“Want to see if anyone on the other side of the world has posted the meteor shower on Youtube?”

He pulled his phone from a pocket of his robe. After a brief search, he said, “Well, what do you know? They have.”

I snuggled in close and laid my head on his shoulder to watch. Outside, the chill wind beat the windows; inside, stars shot across black and indigo skies.

When the videos were done sometime after five, I kissed my husband's cheek. “I think I could sleep now,” I said.

Returning my kiss, he said, “I think I could, too.”

And we slept through a clear and cloudless dawn with a story to tell in years to come of the night we braved the cold and the wind to see a meteor shower that wasn’t there, and how we hunted it down where it was, and we went back to bed with extra blankets and the uncommon promise of dragons in the morning.

So perhaps it was a bit of an adventure after all.

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