I woke up in the dark to find my pillow missing. I groped groggily all over my bed and even searched the floor, but couldn’t find it. In my exasperation, I murmured to myself, “Where is that pillow?”
“Here,” a voice replied suddenly, almost making me jump out of my skin. I quickly reached for the bedside switch, but the voice continued, “Don’t bother, the power is out.”
The voice sighed, “The power, it’s out. What are you, deaf?”
Now that I was fully awake, I realized that the voice was coming from somewhere near the foot of my bed, where my chair usually was. I also noticed that it spoke slowly, droning a little, always mixed with a certain sadness.
“Uh, who are you? And what, seriously what are you doing in my room? In the middle of the night?” Strangely, I wasn’t panicking, only somewhat annoyed.
The voice sighed again. “I’m your pillow,” it announced.
“What?” Now, I was incredulous.
“Your pillow,” it stressed, “you really are deaf.”
I was momentarily speechless. Waking up at midnight only to be insulted by my pillow had not been part of my plan. But gathering my thoughts, I ventured forth again, “So…uh…pillow, what are you doing out of my bed at this time of the night?”
“I’m fed up,” it said sadly.
Wow. My pillow was fed up with me. If I wasn’t feeling so awake, I surely would’ve thought I was dreaming. “Why is that?” I asked and rubbed my eyes, trying to get a glimpse of the speaker in the dark. But I could only see the vague outline of my chair in the inky blackness.
“Because you’ve rendered me worthless. Just useless.” Its tone was noticeably harsher.
I tried to defend myself, “I’m sorry, but I really don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Of course you don’t. When have you ever cared for me?” The tone was still sharp.
The pillow sighed and when it spoke its voice was softer again, “You never talk to me.”
“Uhm, was I supposed to?”
“Yes.” Silence reigned for a few moments after that as I searched my blank mind for something more to say. But then the pillow continued in its sad droning voice. “You see, we pillows are symbols of comfort. Of security. And safety. We are not merely something you lay your head and drool on.”
At the mention of drool, my hand instinctively went to my mouth. The voice continued, “We are something for you to hug when you’re scared. Something to cry into when you’ve had your heart broken. Something to tell your deepest secrets to, knowing it’ll be safe. And we take pride in all that. In fact, we gather and exchange stories. We brag about how much our owners trust us.”
“Gather? Where?” This was getting more and more incredible by the minute.
“In the land of the Dreams, obviously.”
“Obviously.” But, my sarcasm wasn’t acknowledged. Was there some popular myth I had missed?
“And we read your dreams,” my pillow carried on, “It’s one of our biggest honors to keep the bad dreams away and give you only good dreams.”
“So, what did I do?”
“You did none of what I just said. You did not talk to me, didn’t cry into me, didn’t even hug me.” The pillow sounded as if it wanted to cry. Could pillows cry? “And what’s worse,” it lamented, “you don’t even have any good dreams! I’m tired of fighting off your nightmares.”
Fighting off my nightmares! So that’s why I always had dreamless nights. I was beginning to think there was something wrong with me.
“Do you know what it feels like to be ridiculed in front of the other pillows? I never have anything I can tell them about you. And oh, the shame when they know more about you than me from their owners. It’s unbearable.” The pillow was actually sobbing now.
I felt really bad. I sat in the darkness and tried to imagine the pain and sadness of being considered useless by everyone around you. Finally, I said, “I’m sorry. I really am. You see, I didn’t know any of this. I must not have read enough fairytales. I promise that I’ll do it all from tomorrow onwards. I really do understand your pain.”
“Hmm, don’t bother.”
“What?” I was taken aback.
“You are so deaf. I said, don’t bother. I’ve been kicked out.”
“Kicked out from where?”
“Are you stupid too? From the Land of the Dreams, of course. I’m not worthy enough to be someone’s pillow.”
I didn’t know what the right thing to say was. “So, what are you going to do now?”
“Then…I don’t know.” There was a brief silence, and then I heard the chair scrape back. “I’ve got to go. See you never.” Then the door creaked open.
“Wait,” I began, but I could already hear the door close.
And with that, my pillow was gone.