Before he goes to bed, David must do his stretches. He must do the exercises which will prepare him for a night sleep which is proper and good. He is not the young man he once was, and sometimes Sleep has a harder time finding him.
So David touches his toes. When he does this he remembers when his Mom always told him as a kid that he should touch his toes three times every morning. He would do it with her and giggle when she grunted. Now he too grunts while staring at his own funny knees.
And he swings his arms across his chest and back out, like his arms are wings and he’s preparing for flight. This stretches his chest and back which is supposed to be helpful. He used to fly in his dreams but no longer. He must have pulled that muscle long ago and it has never really healed.
As David does these stretches, his wife walks past him. She is smiling and drying her hair. She does not need to stretch before bed, she is ten years younger and vibrant. Sleep still finds her easily. He hears her climb into bed where the dog, Nori, is already snoring.
Then he lifts up his knees one at a time. He pulls them to his chest which stretches out his butt. These days he leans forward a bit, which is technically cheating. If he did not do this, though, it would be a pointless motion altogether. Either that or he would tear his butt to ribbons and that just wouldn’t do.
As he does his squats, David’s two cats meander by and into the bedroom where his wife’s gentle snoring has joined Nori’s more guttural snout sounds. Squats are important as you get older because they keep the muscles which allow you to both sit on and rise from the commode hale and functional. David would like to maintain the dignity of private bathroom time for as long as he can. The bathroom is where he plays games on his phone.
As David rotates has shoulders in slow circles, his wife’s pet bunny hops by. As he stretches his neck, their two ducks quietly waddle past. When he leans into the wall to stretch his calves, a pot bellied pig trots into the bedroom and springs onto the bed.
Now it’s time for David to go to sleep. He walks into the bedroom and the bed covered with little sleeping animals. His wife is sprawled out and the animals are spread across the mattress in their own little zones. They have left a small space by David’s pillow where he can lift the cover and climb in and under some of the beasts and then curl into a tiny little ball. He can do this because he has stretched and can coax his body into the smallest tightest clump possible.
And when Sleep comes, there are so many other animals on the bed that sometimes, Sleep walks right by without even noticing David there staring at the ceiling, remembering the days when he could sleep with his legs straight and his arms extended like he was flying in his dreams.