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The Routine

No day is as good as my dreams

By Kevin McLaughlinPublished 2 months ago 6 min read
The Routine
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

My eyes burst open. I’m covered in sweat. My wife sleeps soundly beside me. I creep out of bed and shower, viciously scrubbing my skin raw. I pull on socks, some slacks, a belt, a button-down shirt, and a tie. Downstairs, my wife, still in her pajamas, has made a pot of coffee. I pour the coffee into the same mug I’ve been using every day for the past decade and kiss her good-bye.

I drive to work and sit in front of a computer in a grey cubicle. A few suits walk past, laughing. Some even talk to me. I smile and nod. We eat lunch together, then return to our respective cubicles. I leave work and go to the gym. I do whatever the flavor of the day in leggings tells me to do through her little microphone. I come home. My wife has made dinner. We eat in near silence. I shower again. I go to sleep.

Day after day, year after year, it goes on. Wake up in a cold sweat. Shower. Button my shirt. Go downstairs. Pour coffee in a mug. Kiss my loving wife. Go to work. Sit in front of a computer for eight hours. Go to the gym. Come home. Shower. Go to bed. On an endless loop and nothing changes. So much so that my wife doesn’t even question anymore why I wake up covered in sweat every morning, why the fidgeting has gotten worse, or why I can’t concentrate at all.

Truth be told, the only thing I live for is unconsciousness. When I’m asleep, I sink into a world of truly wonderful bliss. Snapping out of it and back into the fluorescent-lit reality of every day is a waking nightmare.

I’ve never told anyone about the dreams. It doesn’t feel appropriate to be dreaming as a thirty-five-year-old man. Besides, no one ever asks, so it would be weird to bring it up. The only one who knows anything is my wife. When she asked, I just said, “I have bad dreams,” and that was the end of it.

It shouldn’t have come as a shock, I suppose, when one day she assaulted the routine by tearfully asking if I was cheating.

“You think I don’t notice, but I do. You look so tired all of the time. You’re always fidgeting. You never listen to anything I say,” she bawled.

So maybe she had noticed that things had gotten worse. The thought of cheating had never occurred to me, but in an effort to do right by my wife, I gave it a shot. The best it could do is make my life a bit more like my thrilling nighttime escapades into unconsciousness. The worst it could do was change nothing at all. In the end, it just made Purple Leggings at the gym somewhat more unbearable for a span of weeks before she quit.

The routine continued on its own for a while before my wife disrupted it again. While refusing to make coffee, she insisted I go to therapy. So, rather than see what Cheetah Leggings had in store at the gym, I went to therapy. The best it could do is fix me, and the worst it could do is cure me.

In a beige room full of soft couches and books, the therapist with jaunty glasses sat across from me.

“You look tired,” the therapist said, already writing notes on a pad of paper.

“I am tired,” I admitted.

“Are you sleeping well?”


“Why not?”

“I have dreams.”

“Tell me about your dreams.”

I swallowed hard.

“Every night when I go to bed, I go somewhere else, and it’s so wonderful that I don’t want to come back.”

“What makes it so wonderful?”

“I experience a pleasure like I’ve never been able to experience here in reality.”

The therapist looked at me over her glasses, blinking slowly. I tapped my foot and crossed my legs, hoping that could hide the erection that was sure to come. Swallowing again and holding my hands to keep from fidgeting, I went on.

“I get taken into this room where my arms and legs are extended as far out as they’ll go. I’m not standing on anything, just floating in the air naked and unable to move. It’s warm. Then the angels come. They’re bright white and beautiful. Their hands claw at me. They make tiny cuts in my skin and begin to peel it off inch by inch until I have none left. I bleed the entire time, and it feels so incredible that I screamed in pleasure. Then, they pin my skin back onto me, slowly to make sure that they get it all in the right spots and sew it back into place. Then, I wake up looking just like how I went to bed.”

“This happens every night?” the therapist asks, glancing at my legs.

“Every night.”

The therapist prescribed me sleeping medicine, and the dreams stopped. At first, they seemed a little muddled. I saw the angels, but they wouldn’t take me to the warm room. Then, the dreams were gone entirely.

And the routine persisted. Wake up. Shower. Button my shirt. Go downstairs. Pour coffee in a mug. Kiss my loving wife. Go to work. Sit in front of a computer for eight hours. Go to the gym. Come home. Shower. Take sleeping pills. Go to bed. Fall into the void.

One day, out of sheer pent-up frustration, I tried having sex with my wife to see if it could bring even an ounce of the bliss from my dreams. It gave me next to nothing, and I was beginning to lose hope that I’d ever experience happiness again.

In an effort to not lose my mind completely, I stopped taking the sleeping pills. In a long fight with my wife, she left to stay with her parents. But the routine went on.

Wake up from endless blackness. Button my shirt. Go downstairs. Pour my own coffee in a mug. Go to work. Sit in front of a computer for eight hours. Go to the gym. Come home. Shower. Go to bed.

One night, the dreams finally came back. The angels came to me in my bedroom. Their bright white light illuminated the room, and already, I felt myself eager to submit to their whims. They said they’d missed me. Right then and there, without taking me to their special room, they began to claw at me. Slowly and tantalizingly, they peeled off small strips of my skin, and the bliss was wonderful. I screamed in joy and agony as my angels had finally returned for me.


On sixth June, 2006, at 2227 hrs, Officers HART and ALAMEDA arrived at 405 Pine Street in reference to a call from VICKI COLLINS pertaining to a body found. HART and ALAMEDA met with COLLINS at the house and confirmed the presence of a body. The body was found in bed covered in blood with no skin. No evidence of the body’s skin was found upon a cursory search of the property. COLLINS asserts that the body is that of her husband and that she was not home at the time of the incident. Coroner was called to the scene, stating time of death between 0300 and 0706 hrs.


About the Creator

Kevin McLaughlin

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Comments (1)

  • shanmuga priya2 months ago

    I appreciate your work.

Kevin McLaughlinWritten by Kevin McLaughlin

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