The Pillows’ Complaint

As Jack lay down to go to sleep, he heard what sounded like a man behind him clearing his throat. It sounded like it was coming from the other side of the bed, and so with some alarm, he sat up and turned the bedside lamp back on so he could see what was happening.

He turned over and saw that the pillow on the other side of the bed was basically upright like it was sitting up. However, it was bent near the top so that the gap where the pillow went inside the case was directed at Jack. It started to speak, and the man was astonished and wondered what he’d been drinking or smoking. He wracked his brains, but he couldn’t remember doing either, so he figured that he’d better listen.

“Listen,” said the pillow, “This really isn’t working for me anymore.” As it spoke, the flaps of linen around where it went into its case moved like a mouth. Jack wasn’t sure if he was meant to say anything, or if the pillow just expected him to keep quiet so it could talk. In any case, since he had no idea what he would say anyway, so he just kept his mouth shut.

“All you do is lie on that side,” said the pillow. “I never get used. I mean, it’s been a year since she left, and you still only ever lie on your own side. I might as well just be a sandbag or something.”

While he still recognized the ridiculousness of the situation, Jack felt compelled to speak up. “I never meant for that to happen,” he said. “To be honest, I never thought it would be an issue.”

“How could it not be? Just lying here day after day… You don’t need two pillows. You’d do fine with that one.”

At that, Jack felt his own pillow stir beneath him. It also propped itself up against the wall behind the bed so that it’s “mouth” was facing him.

“I’d rather you left me out of this,” it said.

“Of course, you would,” said the other pillow. “You’d just like to ignore me as well. You’re getting used, and I can just be damned.”

“That’s not fair, and you know it,” said the second pillow. “But it isn’t my fault that I had the good luck to be on this side.”

“But tell him what you tell me,” said the first pillow. “You have an opinion, and he needs to hear it.”

The other pillow just kept quiet until Jack asked it directly what was going on. He felt kind of silly, but his pillows’ opinion on this matter was essential.

After Jack had demanded its opinion, the second pillow quietly started talking again. Even without any eyes or expression to speak of, it was clear that the pillow was hesitant.

“All right, Jack. You really only need one pillow. At least you used to sniff that side, but you don’t even do that anymore. You could also do fine with a single bed, but we won’t even go into that. I know it’s customary to have two pillows, but it’s really starting to cause a problem.”

“I like having two pillows, though,” said Jack defensively. “And not just because it’s customary. I mean, one pillow would just feel like a kind of admission that I really don’t want to make.”

“So what are we going to do?” said the first pillow. “I can’t just lie here, anymore, and you don’t want to live with just one pillow. What are we going to do?”

“How about you wait until he retires?” said Jack. “Then you can be his successor and I’ll just switch you guys.”

It seemed like a perfectly good plan, but it was clear from their silence that the pillows didn’t like it.

“So when I get worn out, you’ll just grab him to take my place?” said the second pillow after a long pause. Its voice was very low and sounded angry.

“I don’t want to be a part of this,” said the first pillow. “This is just demented and I feel filthy even having this conversation.”

The second pillow spoke again. “I’m glad we talked now, though, before he could put his twisted plan into action.” It didn’t seem like Jack was even a part of the conversation anymore, so he kept quiet again, and just listened.

There was another long silence, and then the first pillow spoke up, “You need to go get the throw pillows off the couch tonight,” it said. “Otherwise you’ll definitely wake up with a crick in your neck.”

Jack moved them both out to the couch, and brought the throw cushions in. He asked, but to his relief neither of the couch cushions seemed to have anything to say. They just lay there in silence, and Jack put his head down on them happily. It took a while to get to sleep, but after about an hour, he managed.

When he woke up in the morning he went out to the couch, but the pillows were gone. The living room window was open, and obviously they’d left during the night. At first, Jack was a little upset, but then he realized that their escape had solved a problem for him. While he was lying in bed, unable to sleep, he’d realized that if he was ever going to get any sleep, he’d have to replace his pillows. He had been dreading having to get rid of the old ones, and now he wouldn’t have to. They’d taken care of it for themselves, and he could just go buy some new ones.

And he’d make sure to ask right off the bat if the new pillows wanted to talk about anything.


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