When I was a child my mother made me make my bed every morning. In those days, before doonas and fitted sheets, my bed had a pink satin bedspread and a puffy quilt for winter. It didn’t have a reverse sham so I had to put the bedspread over the pillow and tuck it underneath at the front. The quilt was folded into a long sausage and laid diagonally on the bed. Every Saturday morning we would change the sheets. The bottom sheet would go in the wash and the top sheet would become the bottom. We never had entirely fresh sheets. I know how to make hospital corners – nothing else was acceptable.
When I was in my teens and I had graduated to a double bed, I had a doona with various covers. The first I remember was brightly coloured parrots and against green foliage. I had matching curtains. Then, once I got my water-bed, the doonas I chose were all various designs in black and white – first simple stripes, then stars and moons and finally geometric shapes. I bought a red pillow with a Japanese symbol on it to complete the look. When I moved out of home I took my water-bed with me. I even took it when I went to University. It was the bed where my husband and I first made love. When we replaced it, we bought a futon.
Eventually, after the futon mattress had grown mouldy and thin, we bought a timber bed with an innerspring mattress. By then, the doona covers had become more colourful. The one I remember was embossed burgundy. The last time I saw it, it was rolled up on the corner of the bare mattress in the house I had moved out of, only minutes before I found his body.
In all the time I was married, I rarely made the bed except when I changed the sheets. Not once a week, but once in a while. Being a shift worker, my husband slept odd hours meaning we often didn’t go to bed or get up at the same time. There seemed little point in making the bed when it already had a body in it when I got there.
I bought a bed off the internet when I moved out. It was made of blond timber with a bed head of wrought iron curls. My bedding was beige pinstripes and my sheets were the colour of sand. Across the window I hung fairy lights which I turned on as soon as I got home from work. It was the bed where I made love to those other men.
Duckfish’s bed linen was crisp and white heavy Egyptian cotton, like a hotel room. When we moved in together he brought his solid bed and his sheets. The first thing we bought together was an expensive mattress with a foam top – firm, fresh and just for us.
I have made the bed every morning since the day I left my marriage. It’s a ritual of my new life to plump the pillows, smooth the throw rug and pat out the creases from the night before.