The Discomfort of Love

John woke up with a dull, throbbing ache in his neck. He gently twirled his head about, hoping to find a more comfortable position. He only succeeded in finding that he had no pillow. Thinking that his pillow had fallen off the bed sometime during the night, he decided to inspect the floor. He rolled onto his back and sent his right arm over the edge of his bed. His legs turned over onto their right sides in preparation to turn onto his stomach. His left arm remained pinned to the bed and unresponsive.

With his legs twisted about below him and his right arm hanging off of his bed, John tried to curl the fingers on his left arm. A tingling prickly sensation shot through his arm. Deciding that this situation required the use of all his available senses, John opened his eyes and squinted as the early morning sunlight made its way through a crack in his curtains. Giving himself some time to become accustomed to the light, John slowly opened his eyes. The first thing they settled on was his girlfriend Jane, lying next to him.

So that's it, John slowly reasoned out his surroundings. Jane's on my arm, it's numb, it hurts when I move it, and if I were to move it, I would no doubt wake Jane up. If I don't move it, I lie here for God knows how long with a numb arm and no pillow. Or maybe I could try and share the pillow she's using.

With all the grace of a worm on cement after a rainstorm, John turned back onto his left side and slowly inched his head closer to Jane's pillow. At last he got close enough. He raised his head slowly and prepared to flop it down on the pillow next to Jane's. Suddenly, with a snort and a spasm, Jane curled up closer to the pillow and moved her head onto the half of the pillow that John was hoping to use. What was worse, her adjustment sent that same prickling sensation through his arm again. With a sigh of disbelief, he strategically placed his head upon the only small corner that was still available to him.

It wasn't even close to enough. Even with his face pressed against the back of Jane's head, he could only place half of his head upon the corner of the pillow, an awkward position that made his neck cramp after a minute. Deciding that position was no good, John turned onto his back in defeat and stared at the ceiling, wide awake. To his left, his arm was still trapped under Jane's shoulder.

A thought entered John's head; could this cause irreparable nerve damage? Surely if a sharp blow to a certain spot on the arm could disable it, then long term pressure applied to the same area for hours on end must do some large degree of harm. How long had Jane been pressing on his arm with her shoulder? How long had the feeling been drained from it? Could he really be able to sleep through the sensation of his arm falling asleep, going numb, losing all its feeling, possibly forever? It wasn't out of the question, John was a deep sleeper, and it took a lot to rouse him from bed. But could he really sleep while next to him, his arm was crushed to death?

As if the possibility of losing his arm wasn't bad enough, it had to be his left arm. The arm that had gotten him a scholarship to the college of his choice, the arm that had made him the starting pitcher of the baseball team in sophomore year, the arm that had seen him through the league's record number of strike-outs, the lowest E.R.A. in the school in the last thirty years, and even a perfect game? Did it have to be that arm?

John briefly toyed with the idea of simply yanking his arm out from under Jane, but decided against it. For one, he always strove to be a gentleman, and waking her up so forcefully just seemed, in essence, wrong. Plus, it would hurt like Hell to move his arm that quickly.

If only he was ambidextrous, he could write with his right arm, take up some other major, find a real job, give up on baseball, and lead a normal life somewhere with a shriveled, limp left arm hanging beside him forever, a reminder of a fantastic talent cut short because his girlfriend slept on his arm all night. But no, if he lost this arm, he wouldn't be able to write, and he would fail out of college, and become an all-around failure at life.

"Damn you Jane," he softly hissed. She moaned happily and adjusted her position, her shoulder digging into his arm, once more sending that shooting tingle of a thousand pinpricks all over his arm. John winced, waiting out the intense feeling. And yet, as the pain was subsiding, a cheery, or at least hopeful, thought came to John. If he could still feel his left arm, even if it was incredibly painful, then it must not be completely dead. Even if it was bad, his case might still be salvageable.

However, weren't there amputee's that said they still had pains in joints they had lost? They called them 'phantom pains', John thought. Someone would lose a foot, and be able to say that a patch of asphalt was too hot, even though they wore a shoe on their remaining foot.

What if, the realization finally hit John, that every time she moves, she's just reminding me that I should have an arm with feeling there, and every time that realization collides with the fact that it's dead, I feel just a little bit more of its death? How grotesque!

Remorsefully, John cast one more glance at Jane. He knew what he had to do, his only remaining chance to regain the use of his arm. It was fighting dirty, but it was his last possibility. With his right arm, he grabbed a hold of the blanket and violently yanked it past Jane until he was covered in a mass of warm, soft fabric. Jane awoke with a start to the cold, and she sat up, shivering. Taking his chance, John sat up, pulling his arm to his side. The shooting sensation was magnificent, unlike anything he had ever felt before, but the euphoria of gaining his limb back negated the fiery lava that seemed to have filled every pore from his left shoulder downwards.

With a snort, Jane got up from the bed, grabbed her clothes in a bundle, and huffed "I think I'd better go."

"What's wrong, baby?" John asked this in genuine confusion.

"I'm sorry John," Jane said sorrowfully as she headed out the door, "But I could never share my life and my bed with someone who would sink so low as to steal all the covers. It would just make sleeping too difficult."