Damsel in Distress
Knowing she hadn’t slept well during the night, he woke her gently, tiptoeing into the room and sitting on the bed, kissing her shoulder, forehead, cheek. He doubted she remembered being woken the first time, when he got up, though they’d exchanged smiles, kisses, good-mornings. She’d gone straight to sleep again. It was a couple hours since then, late enough that he knew she would be irked to have slept the day away, would have trouble sleeping tonight again if she stayed in bed much longer.
He’d had his coffee, but was only now starting to put breakfast together for himself, thought to wake her while washing the strawberries they’d bought yesterday. He prepared her coffee, then, with it heating in the microwave, cut the first strawberry in half and ate one, realizing that this burst of sweet ripeness would rouse her more effectively than the coffee.
He’d carried both in with him, setting the coffee on the bedside table before sitting beside her and kissing her awake. Somewhere unremembered in his past, he’d formed an expectation of grumpy wakers, and always woke her with an internal reluctance. But she’d never reacted that way, always smiled up at him as if he was the best thing she could see upon waking, as she does now. Smelling the coffee, her eyes go to the mug, but he holds up the strawberry half.
“They’re good,” he says.
Sitting up against the wall, she smiles again. “My hero.”
Matthew Brennan is a writer and freelance editor based in the Pacific Northwest. Having earned his MFA in fiction from Arizona State University, he remains on the editorial staff of the Hayden’s Ferry Review, and he is an assistant fiction editor with Speech Bubble Magazine. He is received several awards and fellowships for his short fiction, which has appeared in several dozen journals, including Fiddleblack, Pure Slush, The Eunoia Review, Recess Magazine, and thick jam, and is forthcoming from Cigale Literary Magazine.