11:26

I flipped the switch to reveal an unmade bed; my pillow dotted with mascara. I considered the scene, flooded with the unlovely radiance of “the big light.” It was late. Too late for my normal evening routine, much less this. “Would you mind terribly if I changed the sheets?” I called into the hall. It had been almost two weeks.

“If you really want to…” came the reply.

“Time me!” I suggested, more out of curiosity than sport. “What time is it?”

“Eleven sixteen.”

I lunged for the nearest pillow and began to peel away the case. For a moment, I considered whether I might race around the bed, flinging away the blankets so that I might find myself between two new buttery-soft sheets as quickly as possible. It was then I remembered something I had learned in gun fighting school.

Smooth is fast.

I was never a graceful girl, and, though I try very hard, I am not a very graceful woman. To make up for my deficiencies, I married a man whom my sister and I had always referred to as “smooth.” He doesn’t run around and get flustered and drop things like I do. He moves much more slowly, but always intentionally and always gracefully, and always, somehow, finishes before I do. It was at gun school that I learned the name of his secret and internalized it. Smooth is fast.

It helps that bed making is one of my talents, and an oft-used one at that. It also happens that I take great pleasure in arranging my folded sheets so that flat and fitted are virtually indiscernible from one another as they occupy a neat stack with their two daughter pillowcases. I briefly consider a video post on how to make a bed. I could tell everyone how to fold a fitted sheet. But I think I’d rather tell them that smooth is fast.

I smile with comfort at what is suddenly the puffy pintucked marshmallow I wanted and tossed a multiracial family of useless textured pillows onto its folds.

“What time is it?” I asked.

“Eleven twenty-six,” he said. “I love you.”

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