The Squeak

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The noise sounded like air slowly being released from a balloon– or at least that’s what Elle thought.

When she heard the sound, her whole body was bathing in the warmth of his radiant heat; her arms coiled around his barrel chest, fingers entwined in a thicket of chest hair, breasts flattening with every perfectly in sync inhale. She was in a complete state of ecstasy; high on his virile pheromones and the scent of his musky cologne.

Even in December, his warmth under the fleece blankets was like a sauna. There was no need to turn on the heat at night when going to bed with her husband – still such a strange thing to say, ‘husband’ – because going to bed with him was like going to bed with an old-timey, antique bed warmer.

It was while lying in his bed, however, blissfully being lulled to sleep by the cadence of their breathing, when she heard the noise. No, in their bed. And here she was, still in bed, only seconds after the noise stopped. Frozen in horror. Eyes bulged open. Listening to Logan’s breathing to gauge if the noise woke him or not.

A quick silent prayer: please God, help me in my time of need.

It should be said that Logan was not a fan of cuddling. He did, however, tolerate it when he was unconscious. He kept his bedroom as chilly as an icebox, but it was always nice and balmy under the covers with him after only a few short minutes. He relished the cold. Boasted endlessly about how he would survive the subzero temperatures in Alaska with little more than a hatchet. But he hated, hated Elle’s “cold and clammy” feet. And fingers. He said they felt like ice cubes on his skin and was convinced no person could survive with such a low body temperature.

“I’m pretty sure you’re a ghost that I talk to every night.” Logan said while they settled into bed, only a week after their weddingmoon. Not wanting to start their marriage with a heaping pile of debt and stress, Elle and Logan decided to elope in Fiji. The only witnesses were their butler and a housekeeper; someone yelled “Don’t do it!” from a hotel balcony while Elle walked down a long bamboo carpet laid across powdery sand- it was a perfect ceremony.

Fresh back from their trip, Logan slapped Elle’s hand when she attempted to drape her arm over his chest as they climbed under the covers together. Sometimes, if she grabbed him fast enough, her fingers would warm up on his soft, dewy skin and he’d endure her snuggles.

But not tonight, apparently.

“I think my family is going to come visit me in a year and find a skeleton lying in my bed- my “wife” that I’ve been talking to all this time,” Logan said, putting some space between him and Elle’s cold feet. When Logan made the jab, Elle was lying face up on the bed with her beanpole arms folded across her chest in protest- just happening to make her look like she’d been freshly laid into a casket. She was not amused. Tomorrow they would have to talk again about her need for physical affection beyond sex.

“I think my family is going to come visit me in a year and find a skeleton lying in my bed- my “wife” that I’ve been talking to all this time,” Logan said, putting some space between him and Elle’s cold feet.

Fortunately, Elle recently stumbled upon a hypnotic trick to lull Logan to sleep; and the faster Logan fell asleep, the faster she could cling to his side like a magnet.

Turning onto her elbow, Elle patted the spot on the bed below her armpit: a signal she used similar to the bell Pavlov rung for his dog. As soon as Logan saw her gesture, he ripped off his shirt, tossed it carelessly onto the floor, and pushed his head past the obligatory gap between them and into the nook under her arm.

Within fifteen minutes, Logan was close to drowning in a pool of his own drool.

The trick (or reward) was light scratches in a circular motion on Logan’s back until he passed out. Elle learned through back channels – Logan’s mother during a wine-fueled dinner a month before Logan and Elle eloped – that, when Logan was a child, Logan’s father planted this psychological seed by rubbing Logan’s back every night before bedtime; it was a technique her father-in-law used for the same purpose Elle used it tonight- to shut Logan down.

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But did the sound wake him? It was such a quiet, high-pitched noise, like a baby squealing, Elle doubted it. But she listened for a change in his rhythmic breathing all the same. It wasn’t a change in Logan’s breathing pattern, however, that notified Jess that he was awake, but the weight of his arm landing across her chest, startling her and pinning her to the bed.

Elle’s face flushed beet red. He heard it.

Despite being the lady of the house, her auditory anal acoustics count was well above Logan’s since she moved in, and he already warned her once not to fart on him. That was the thing that surprised Elle the most about being married, all the little things one can no longer hide from their partner when they co-exist in the same living space- like IBS.

That was the thing that surprised Elle the most about being married, all the little things one can no longer hide from their partner when they co-exist in the same living space- like IBS.

Elle braced herself, preparing for a merciless barrage of mocking and scorn for expelling gas so loudly that it woke him. But the rogue wave of ridicule never came.

“Shhh….did you hear that?” Logan’s breathing became rapid, shallow.

Elle didn’t blink, letting her eyes burn like embers in a dwindling fire as she stared guiltily into the dark; she struggled to maintain a normal breathing pattern herself, worried that a change in her tempo might give her away.

Was he joking or did Logan truly have no idea what the noise was? Elle said another silent prayer for Logan to hear nothing further and simply slip back into a deep sleep. She squirmed under his arm, knowing he wouldn’t fall back to sleep quickly without back scratches.

“Shhh,” Logan said more forcefully this time, continuing to pin her down. “Someone opened the front door,” he concluded.

Shallow, rapid breaths- he was panicking.

Logan bolted out of the bed and darted towards the living room, shutting the bedroom door behind him.

Elle thanked God for answering her prayers, albeit in his own way. As she was acutely aware that the smell of spoiled milk was filling the room. Elle jumped on her knees and began to frantically fan the bed covers to disperse the smell. She learned the hard way over the course of their relationship that gas tended to linger under fleece sheets. Not to mention that it would only add insult to injury if Logan came back to bed with adrenaline rushing through his veins from an imaginary home invader and got a face full of her lethal rectal cocktail.

… it would only add insult to injury if Logan came back to bed with adrenaline rushing through his veins from an imaginary home invader and got a face full of her lethal rectal cocktail.

Logan’s edgy behavior made sense to Elle. His house was situated in a good part of Albuquerque, but close to the high crime downtown area. A fact that did not bother Logan before they got married. Elle, on the other hand, was on constant alert when she slept over his place on the weekends back when they were dating. Every unexplained creak, bang, and crash woke her. The old house seemed to come alive at night, making Saturday mornings a haze that required an additional layer of foundation to cover the purplish hue under her eyes. Logan would be rested. Perky. Ready to hit the road before Elle even sipped her first cup of coffee. She had no choice but to badger him nightly with tales of the latest violent-ish local news in hopes that he would set up a security system in the home before she moved in. At least then she could get some sleep and not have to go to work feeling and looking like a zombie.

Logan shrugged off her fears by arguing that he lived in a good neighborhood. He told her not to worry so much. Claimed he took precautions, and by “precautions” he meant that he left the porch light on at night and had security signs in the front yard- signs he left in place from the previous home owners. Despite these sophisticated security measures, Elle continued to regale him nightly with exaggerated versions of local crime stories. She needed to break his faith in humanity. And when the hyperbole finally broke him, he agreed to buy a gun.

But as of this very moment, the only guns in the house were the ones Logan put on display when he walked around the house wearing nothing but his spandex boxers and a cutoff t-shirt, showing off his studly biceps like a peacock with its fanned plumage.

Her brave husband was searching for a home invader while unarmed, spreading his nervous energy with every door she heard him check and check again. She listened to the shuffling of Logan’s feet as he skulked through the house, clearing every room.

Had she married a more cowardly man, Elle may not have been given the time she needed to clear the bedroom of the real intruder. It wasn’t long, however, before the lights began shutting off one by one throughout the house. Panic gripped Elle by the chest as she realized the smell was still in the room, refusing to leave like a swarm of gnats hovering over a picnic basket.

Elle knew she’d taken this too far, but she couldn’t stop now.

“Uh, did you check the doors, babe?” Elle’ voice genuinely quivered out of fear that Logan would come into the bedroom and smell her sins in the lingering fog.

Would he be mad? Would he find it funny? Mad, he’d probably be mad.

“Yes,” Logan answered from the hallway.

On her knees on top of the bed, holding the edges of the fleece blanket in her hands, Elle listened closely to the footsteps getting louder as Logan walked toward the bedroom. The doorknob creaked as it turned.

“Check again. I’m really scared,” Elle belted out.

Elle didn’t move. Neither did Logan. Then the doorknob fell back into place with a soft thud as it was released. Elle heard Logan turn around and head back towards the living room, giving her time to vigorously begin flinging the sheets up and down again to create a breeze in the room; the sheets made a cracking sound as she whipped them, her forearms on fire. How was the smell not dissipating? What on earth did she eat last night? Elle couldn’t recall, she was too focused on listening to the clinking of locks being checked and rechecked so she knew exactly where Logan was in the house.

It was too early in their marriage to ruin her image of his sweet, dainty wife. Not to mention the distrust she was rapidly adding to her tab with every clink. A wicked, manic smile, Elle couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Seriously, how had he not figured out yet what is going on?

The clock flashed 11:55 pm when Logan crawled back into bed.

“I guess the neighbor must have opened their side door,” Logan muttered as he wiggled into a comfortable position, not noticing that the bed was freshly made.

Elle responded by latching herself onto his side, holding on tightly to her hero. Luckily, he was too tired to fight her off. Closing her eyes, Elle did what any good wife would do and let her husband believe his totally plausible explanation.   

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But the story didn’t end there…

The next morning, while sitting at her desk at work, brainlessly logging in data on her computer, the scenario replayed in Elle’s head like a broken record. She covered her mouth to muffle her laughter. A futile effort. She was sure everyone in the cubicle farm could hear her compulsive laughing.

But the noise kept replaying in her head: the prolonged, sharp, off-pitch sound of a trumpet being played by a novice middle-schooler.

She had been laughing so hard all morning that tears were now streaming down her face while she plugged serial numbers into a spreadsheet on her screen. Co-workers gave her concerned looks as they walked by her cubicle, but no one had yet to bother to ask her what was wrong. Elle, aware that her laughter sounded like she was weeping, even bawling, enjoyed being ignored, it worked in her favor- no one came to talk to her all morning.

She should try crying at her desk more often.  

The day was going great, Elle was free to do her work without anyone asking her any half-baked questions or wanting to tell her a story about their exciting weekend cleaning gutters or attending their kid’s school play. That was, until her boss poked his head into her cubicle and asked her to come to his office.

Elle’ boss, Mr. Lacey, chivalrously pulled out a chair for Elle to sit on, something he had never done before. Elle raised an eyebrow. Mr. Lacey was an eccentric, mercurial man with wild, uncombed curly hair, who often appeared too preoccupied with his own thoughts to follow social protocols. He pointed to the chair, motioning for Elle to sit and gave her a smile when she did so.

Elle could tell the smile was forced. Insincere. Was this about the shipment code she accidentally inverted last week?

Mr. Lacey looked uncomfortable as he cleared his throat and sat down across from her. He told Elle that employees had reported to him that she had been crying at her desk. Kindly, he asked if there was anything Elle needed to talk about.

Did something happen to a loved one? A friend?

He strained to give her a warm smile, but it looked more like a painful grimace.

He was such an odd man.

Elle sputtered out a laugh as she realized she was in the exact same position she was in last night- does she tell him about the fart or does she let him draw his own conclusions?

Mr. Lacey leaned in and put his hand on Elle’s shoulder when he heard what he thought was crying. Some sort of technique to show empathy that she imagined he learned in an over-priced management course.

Some sort of technique to show empathy that she imagined he learned in an over-priced management course.

It too, felt forced.

Elle remained silent, looking at the floor as she debated what to say. If she met Mr. Lacey’s gaze, she knew she would burst out laughing again. And if she told him the truth, then her professionalism at work would be tainted for her entire employment.

Who would ever take her seriously again if they learned she had the sense of humor of a second grade boy?

Elle opened her mouth to say something, but nothing came out. She had no idea what to say. She shut her mouth, straining to find the words to admit what was really going on. Saved by an awkward, mechanical pat on her shoulder, Mr. Lacey said, “I understand” and told her to take the rest of the day off.

Elle happily obliged.

Technically, no lies had been told. Nor did Elle embellish upon any of the invented narratives regarding her…incident.

Her only crime was remaining silent…and since when had silence been a crime?

Feeling vindicated, Elle picked a spot on the couch back at the house that was warmed by a ray of sun. The chorus of the creaking floorboards and walls played an eerie tune around her. The melody made somehow even creepier by her own repeated sputtering laughter- an impulsive response to the sound playing on loop in her head.

Elle began to fear that if she didn’t tell someone what really happened then her bottled up laughter would continue to drip out of her like a leaky faucet, possibly for days. She knew she needed to tell someone the true story, but who wouldn’t immediately judge her for such childish antics?

Logan. She had to tell Logan.

It would be fine, Elle reassured herself, stretching her legs across the wrinkled leather cushions. He would get a kick out of it. Besides, this was the exact sort of shenanigans that solidified a marriage, she was almost sure of it.

Resolved to tell her husband what really happened last night, Elle decided to wait until Logan came home from work before she bombarded him with her confession.

She grabbed a red fleece throw blanket from the foot of the couch, one of the many fleece blankets Logan had scattered around the house like Easter eggs, and pulled it up over her shoulders.

A jingling noise from the front door jolted Elle back awake. She didn’t even realize she dozed off.

Barely conscious, Elle raced to the door just as Logan opened it. Her drowsy synapses misfired as she incoherently jabbered out her confession while Logan stood in the doorway:

“That noise you heard last night? It was scary, but it wasn’t. If you had a gun you would’ve been less scared. We should really buy that gun. I think I’m ready for one now. But not that you needed a gun last night. The noise was me. Please don’t give me some dude nickname like the burrito blaster or the rotten egg dispenser. I’m a lady! I’m a lady!”

One of Logan’s caterpillar eyebrows crawled midway up his forehead as he listened to Elle’s muddled timeline and tried to piece together the logical portions of her story.

“Oh, and I got off work early because of it too. My boss thought I was crying all day, but really I was laughing about the sound I made.”

Done rambling, Elle watched Logan’s expression change from confusion to disbelief to repulsion to a little bit of pride as the dots started to connect in his head.

“Wait. Really? That noise last night was you?” Logan’s other eyebrow climbed up his forehead. “Why wouldn’t you just tell me you farted?”

“Baby, I know, but you were so brave!” Elle said, looking up at Logan with baby doll eyes while she tugged at his jacket.

“Baby, I know, but you were so brave!”

 My darling angel is an animal,” Logan said, putting down his brief case.

He kissed the top of Elle’s head as he walked inside. A greeting he’d given her every day after coming home from work since she’d moved in with him. His kiss left Elle with a warm, fuzzy feeling, as it always did. She breathed in his musky scent as he walked towards the kitchen.

Logan grabbed a can of beer from the fridge, flicked open the top with his thumb and then headed into the living room. Flopping down on the couch, he patted the empty spot next to him- a signal for Elle to sit down on the open spot.

Elle took her cue and curled up next to Logan. He grabbed the crumpled red fleece throw blanket at the edge of the couch and laid it over both their laps. Putting his arm around her, Logan pulled Elle in close, flashing her an impish smile.

“What?” Elle asked.

“If I’m being totally honest,” Logan said, “I actually thought the noise was a duck quacking, but I was pretty sure a duck didn’t break into our home.”

1 thought on “The Squeak

  1. This is great! I love the duck reference too; my mother-in-law was always bottom-burping and everyone joked she had a duck following her around!

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