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Inappropriate Domestic Intimacy

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Angela does not do sleep-overs. She did not do them when she was in grade school, and, in spite of what Stacy Ketterman had said in junior high, it had not been because nobody liked her. Angela had been very popular. She merely has never seen the point of some kind of get-together in which secrets are told willy-nilly, and make-up is applied in such a way that the wearer ends up looking like a prostitute, and at which-- in spite of the word "sleep-over"-- very little sleep is had. Angela has always firmly believed that a good night's sleep is just as necessary as a thorough morning shower. Sacrificing it for no reason is a ridiculous idea.

She has more reasons than that for not sleeping over at Dwight's, all of which she has discussed with him in logical fashion and with which, after some initial resistance, he agreed. First and foremost, it is one thing for them to be physically intimate outside of marriage, but for them to further abandon the normal stages of courtship and fall into a mockery of married life is just too much. Sleeping over is not living together, granted, but she finds the ideas uncomfortably similar. It is domestic intimacy, a knowledge of what the other person looks like when they wake first thing in the morning, becoming comfortable with walking around in one's underwear in front of the other person-- these small things marking the beginning of a slippery slope down towards sharing a toothbrush, or a shower, or peeing with the bathroom door open. Unthinkable. Angela knows where to draw the line.

The other reason, a much more immediate one, is Dwight's cousin Mose. While there is a certain temptation inherent in the idea of being domestically intimate with Dwight (she has entertained the occasional fantasy of sharing the Sunday newspaper with him over breakfast, discussing current events and critiquing the comics, before going to church-- together), sharing any such thing with Mose is out of the question. She does not want to run the risk of encountering Mose in some state of undress, or for him to knock on the bathroom door while she is using the facilities, or, for that matter, to deal with him at all during the morning hours. There are certain standards that Angela requires to be comfortable sleeping somewhere, and Mose's presence violates nearly every one of those standards.

In short, Angela refuses to ever willingly sleep over at the farmhouse, which is why it is such a shock to wake up in Dwight's bed the morning after Phyllis' wedding.

Worse, she is naked. Naked. She slept in the nude, like some slut in the movies. Based on the full spill of sunlight across the garish floral wallpaper ('vintage', Dwight calls it, as though that somehow makes it more attractive), it's nearly eight in the morning. She can't remember ever sleeping this late before. Her unbrushed teeth feel thick and her whole mouth feels sticky and nasty.

This, this is what comes of staying late at weddings and engaging in covert dancing and indulging in sentimental feelings which made her agree to come back to the farmhouse for a while instead of sensibly going home. She has been careless, and now she is being punished. All of this is too horrible for words.

Angela bunches the sheets up around her chin and slowly turns her head-- her neck so stiff and tense that it creaks like an old gate-- to look at the other side of the bed. To her vast relief, Dwight is not there. Even more of a relief: the door is closed. She quickly gets up and pulls on all of her underthings, including the slip, and rummages around in her purse for a stick of sugar-free gum-- it's not a toothbrush, but it will have to do; she can't imagine the possibility of facing Dwight (or, for that matter, facing anyone) with such disgusting breath.

Dwight's dresser is the old-fashioned vanity kind, with a mirror attached. Everything on it is lined up with military precision: hairbrush, comb, wallet, keys, Dunder-Mifflin ID badge, and his cell phone, with its charger cord neatly coiled up and secured with a twist-tie that, when she looks at it a little closer, appears to be one of the red ones from Dwight's favorite brand of bread. Angela's reflection in the mirror is flushed and mussed, her hair going every which way, the very picture of a fallen woman. She scowls, picks up Dwight's brush (which, thankfully, is impeccably free of hair), and deals with the mess on top of her head.

Better. Almost.

There is a knock at the door. "Don't come in!" Angela snaps; she backs behind the closet door in a panic. "Occupied! Occupied!"

"It's me." Dwight's voice is distant and muffled through the bedroom door, but she still folds her arms across her breasts, feeling exposed. "I thought you might want a robe."

"I don't want a robe," Angela tells him, hating the childish tone in her voice. "I need to be at church in an hour. I want to go home."

"You sound angry."

"I am angry!"

There is a long silence from the other side of the door. The longer it continues, the more Angela begins to feel an irrational twinge of guilt.

After a small eternity, Dwight's voice says, "I sent Mose on walkabout."

"I don't know what that means," Angela sighs.

"He's checking the fields. He won't be back for a few hours. You can come out and I can take you home and he won't see you." Another pause. "I could make you some breakfast before you leave. Maybe some pancakes. I make excellent pancakes."

Angela considers this. She has to admit that, under the circumstances, this may be the best that she can do. "All right," she agrees stiffly.

The doorknob turns and Dwight's arm comes through, holding a long blue bathrobe. "It's clean," he says. "Freshly washed."

She hesitates. "Whose is it?"

"It's mine."

This is still a little too domestically intimate for Angela's tastes, but she's touched that Dwight understands her well enough to wash a robe for her before she woke up, and that he would understand that Mose's robe would be unacceptable. She creeps up to the door and gingerly takes the robe from Dwight's hand without touching him. He withdraws his arm and shuts the door again, leaving her to her business.

The robe is very long. Ridiculously long; it comes down to her ankles, and if she wasn't blessed with good posture, it would be even longer. In order to make it wearable, Angela has to roll up the sleeves a few times and remove the belt from the belt loops (which are situated below her hips) in order to tie it properly around her waist. She feels foolish and strangely young, like she's five years old again, trying on her mother's beautiful light blue Easter dress with the discreet touch of lace around the wrists and high neckline. It's not an altogether unpleasant feeling.

Dwight is in the kitchen, dressed as though he were going to work, right down to the tie. He smiles at her, but doesn't comment on the length of the robe or say anything awkward about sleeping or morning or bathrooms or the like. Instead, he pulls out a chair at the round kitchen table with a bowl of fruit positioned precisely in the center, and motions for her to take a seat. He already has the Sunday paper right there, as if it were a place setting, and, like everything else that Dwight touches, it's crisp and neat and just-so.

She sits, and considers his outfit curiously. "Why are you dressed like that?"

He straightens up, self-conscious. "I thought, perhaps, that, if you would like, I might accompany you this morning. To church." He looks uncomfortable, as if his tie is too tight. "It seems like it would be a good morning for it. A morning--" he clears his throat-- "of many firsts. I thought this might be one. Of them." He clears his throat again. "If you'd like."

Angela is not a great believer in miracles, for all her faith in God. For the most part, she has found, the Lord trusts that His people will have the good sense to do what they can with what they have, and to achieve their goals through hard work. Only lazy people believe in miracles, so that they can believe that it's all right to sit on their rear ends and wait for God to take care of them.

This, however, might just be a miracle.

"All right," she tells him. "I would like that very much."

Dwight nods, decisive as ever, and turns to the stove. "Would you like me to make pancakes? Alternatively, I believe we may have oatmeal. Rolled, not instant."

"I'm not very hungry," she says. "I think I might just have some fruit." She selects an orange from the fruit bowl and inclines her head toward another chair. "We could share the paper."

"That would be very nice," Dwight says. He smiles at her, and for the first time on this awful, awkward morning, Angela feels as though things are working out right.