So that’s the secret –

November 8, 2019

spontaneously combust

November 8, 2019

It makes all the sense in the world. You awaken and smell smoke and see that the cat at the foot of the bed is on fire. And so you scoop him up and race to the bathroom and douse him with the tub. You reassure him that he will be fine – he is fine – telling him that everything’s okay. You hold him firmly but gently under the faucet because you are worried about his burns.

The only thing is, you’re not awake. But you’re not precisely dreaming, either. After all, in the morning the sheets are wet where the cat slept when you both went back to bed, and there is fur in the tub. There are scratch marks on your arms and the back of your hands, because the cat was justifiably resistant to the idea of a shower in the middle of the night. And, of course, the animal was never on fire. Northing in the house was on fire. And you’re a responsible person; you know that cats and dogs don’t spontaneously combust. But in the middle of the night, in the fidelity of that instant, you were saving the cat’s life and that was all that mattered.

Chris Bohjalian
The Sleepwalker