Knock, KnockLondon Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
London bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.

He’s been falling asleep a lot lately, I tell my mother over the phone, the receiver cupped under my chin; she is the one who still holds me. He keeps falling asleep on the toilet, I say as I laugh, even though it isn’t funny anymore. At night he slips through the sheets, leaves the room, walks to his bathroom, closes the door, and locks it. I don’t know why he locks it, I tell her. I never thought about it before. He probably doesn’t want the kids barging in on him, I say, they are getting older you know.

When I wake up in the middle of the night, I slide my hand and feel for his and I can’t find it. The bed is empty and the sheets where he lay are cold. I knock on the wall that separates my bathroom from his, and I yell: Come on Tim, Wake up! I wait for his knock back, a return to my call, two little kids playing knock, knock, who’s there. But he doesn’t answer. Wake up! I yell again as I pound harder on the wall. I want to say wake the fuck up instead but it isn’t his fault and I need to be more patient. Let me in, or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.

I leave the room and knock directly on his bathroom door. Please, wake up, I say as I grab the knob with both my hands and twist it hard back and forth, listening to the click click, click click. If I could change one thing about my husband, I think, just one thing, he wouldn’t spend so much time in the bathroom.

He opens the door, and I come in and get him. His head bowed, his eyes closed, he’s sitting on the toilet. I take his hand in mine, lift him gently, walk him back to our bed, and tuck him in. Goodnight, sleep-tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.

His butt must get sore, my mother says, and she laughs, because isn’t this whole thing funny. I think he needs to go to a doctor, get a sleep study, I tell her, like Dad, but he keeps telling me there’s nothing wrong with him; he says he’s just not getting enough sleep.  But it’s happening in the afternoon, I tell her, all the time now. Mommy, I say as I cradle the phone closer to my ear. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men.

Saturday or a Sunday, the day he forgot to lock the door. I remember hearing the children in the living room laughing as I knocked, twisted the handle, felt the door release. Tim, I said. Then I saw the needle poised in midair, and the IV bag hanging from the wire rack above the toilet, the Dilaudid running in his veins.

Suppose the man should fall asleep,
Fall asleep, fall asleep,
Suppose the man should fall asleep,
My fair lady.

Hilary Selznick recently earned her MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Western Michigan University where she served as the Nonfiction Editor for Third Coast. Presently, she is at work on a full-length manuscript that explores her experiences with chronic pain and its relationship to her grandmother’s suffering as a Holocaust survivor. An excerpt of her memoir is forthcoming in Passages North.

Photo by Pamela Z. Daum