Samantha Sweeting
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Upon Sleeping with Samantha Sweeting
Text by Anonymous

I received a message from W., asking if I might like to sleep with his friend Samantha, an artist who was working on some piece that involved sleeping with strangers. I knew nothing more about her and tried to keep it that way, despite the temptation to try and work out what I was letting myself in for.

A date was arranged. I waited at the appointed time. I stocked up on Ovaltine and changed the bed linen. I grew nervous.

As it turned out, Samantha seemed as nervous as myself. Perhaps I’d expected to be ordered to bed, subjected to some performance piece with bedtime prayers, undressing rituals, smalltalk confidences on the verge of unconsciousness, farting competitions. There was none of that. We sat downstairs for a while and talked. I exchanged eau de vie for the Ovaltine. Samantha didn’t seem keen on milky drinks. Perhaps it was the new glasses. I’d been trying for Le Corbusier or Nagai Kafu, but kept being compared to Richard Attenborough as John Christie. Breathe, breathe. Or Arthur Askey. Before your very eyes...

We spoke about sleep and love. She mentioned a poet, I droned on inconsequentially about Yotsuya Simon’s relation to Hans Bellmer. That kind of thing. I’d drunk just enough to think that I might fall asleep soon enough. Quite rightly, she had enough and tentatively we negotiated our way upstairs to bed. This side? That? Should I wear my dressing gown or not? Samantha had changed into a white nightdress that looked vaguely sacrificial, but that really wasn’t the mood. I was more concerned that I was going to foghorn my snore throughout the night.

When W. had first suggested my involvement, I’d hesitated. Why would I? Then I felt vaguely flattered by the proposal. The artist would be quite safe in my bed, I wouldn’t make any innuendo that I wouldn’t deliver upon. In fact, I don’t think I made any innuendos at all. I felt protective, not wishing to intrude upon her personal space and yet also patrol its borders in case of a rogue incubus during the night. I wanted her to get a good night’s sleep. Wasn’t that the point? Or rather how I chose to understand it.

The two of us lay in bed. Chaste and distant cousins. I started reading her The Nose by Gogol. I suspect she was asleep after the third page, but kept going until the end. I smoked a cigarette, turned off the light. The room was now quiet, the bed was warm.

I dreamed. Of what I can’t quite remember, but it was a rare dream of calm. Imaginary musical instruments, unheard sounds, a lakeside vista and Samantha was there amidst it all. I awoke at various points. Had I been snoring? Perhaps. I think my arm may have drifted across her body at some point and lain there awhile. If it did, there was nothing prurient about it. Why, I thought, there is someone next to me. This space, so frequently vacant, temporarily filled. Would I always sleep so sweetly with someone besides? With waking, this sense of absence. Take it downstairs, drink coffee in the dawn light, do something ephemeral until she wakes.

She came downstairs a couple of hours later. I told her the dream. As much as I could remember. She drank some tea. She left. The Ovaltine still unopened.

A few weeks later I began sleeping with someone on a more permanent basis. I have had enough of sleeping alone.