I woke up with sweat coursing down my face. My blanket and pillows had fallen to the floor. The branches of the large oak tree outside my window screeched against the glass panes. In the eerie glow of moonlight, I managed to free myself from the tangled sheets and escape my room. I held on to my throat, hoping it was not too late.
Heart pounding, I ran downstairs to my parent’s room. How much longer could I go without oxygen? I threw the door open, and raced to the bed. It was king-sized, and I jumped into it and swam through the endless sea of blankets to find help. My mom was out of town, so I shook my dad’s shoulder with all my strength.
“Daddy, Daddy, I swallowed a spoon!”
He groaned, and turned around, but my alarm did not wake him.
“Daddy!” I shouted. “Wake up, I’m dying!”
He shot up and asked what was wrong.
“I swallowed a spoon,” I repeated.
He examined my neck with his fingers. It was dark, which could explain how he missed the large, hard protrusion in my throat. I knew that if I looked in a mirror, there would most certainly be the outline of a spoon. I could even feel the ornate carvings of the decorated handle underneath my skin.
“I can’t breathe,” I pleaded. Why didn’t he believe me?
He took my hand and we walked to the kitchen together, me still holding my throat, afraid that if I swallowed too hard, the spoon would end up in my stomach. He flicked the switched and I had to squint for a moment before my eyes would adjust to the harsh light. Electricity buzzed through the lights and refrigerator. I had never noticed how loud a room could be. The kitchen seemed much bigger, the blue tile floor went on forever.
He opened our utensil draw and studied it for a moment. I stood on my tippy toes, trying to peer in as well, but I was too short. “Was it one of the big spoons or the little spoons?” he asked.
I squeezed the enormous lump in my throat. “The big spoon. Definitely the big spoon.”
He took the big spoons out of the drawer and began counting them. “Seven, eight, nine, ten. Nope, no big spoons are missing.” He put them back in the drawer.
I felt my neck again. The lump did seem smaller than before. “Maybe it was the little spoons.” My cat, Smokey Love, brushed up against my leg, thinking that it was time for breakfast. I picked her up and held her close to my chest. She rubbed her head against my neck.
My dad took out the little spoons and counted those. “There’s twelve of these, but I know for a fact that we’ve always had ten big spoons and twelve little spoons, so you, my dear,” he knelt down and brushed some hair behind my ear, “did not swallow a spoon.”
A rush of relief ran through my body, and I threw my arms around my dad. I was going to be ok. He carried me back to my room and tucked me into bed. Moonlight filled the room with a soft blue glow. The wind had died down, and the tree was no longer hitting my window. He kissed me goodnight, and I turned to my side to fall asleep. I took a deep breath and felt it go down my unobstructed throat. There were ten big spoons and twelve little spoons, and all was right with the world.
Years later, when I was buying my first set of utensils at Crate&Barrel, I realized I was looking for a set that had twelve little spoons and ten big spoons. Funny how we convince ourselves to believe the things that make us feel safe.