Sleep Walking Secretive Coughing Corpse



I don’t feel those often.

Not because I don’t do stupid things. I do. A lot. I just don’t care what others think, a survival mechanism learned at a young age.

Many activities considered embarrassing, I love.

Dancing alone just because a song with a catchy beat filled the room? No problem.

Asking a question most would assume is “stupid” because I honestly want to know? Sure.

Stripping naked in a locker room? Giving birth killed my modesty.

My child(ren) melting down in public while other kids are the epitome of good behavior? It was roll with the chaos or become a hermit.

A few things have slipped by, catching me off guard, my cheeks heating with the flames of mortification.

Funny how they deal with urine or coughing….


The basement of JJ’s house. Her birthday slumber party.

At least six of us curled in beds and sleeping bags, finally crashing off the sugar high, sick of Truth or Dare.

I woke up to silence. Everyone asleep. My bladder bursting with soda pop.

I stumbled around, trying to remember where the basement bathroom was located.

At last I found it, and sat, relaxing my muscles in blessed relief.

Something warm trickled down my leg.

Confused, I opened my eyes, darkness all around. Instead of the bathroom, I found myself halfway up the downstairs steps of JJ’s split level. Urine pooled at my bare feet, my underwear and nightshirt drenched.

I did the only thing a nine year old could in this situation.

I bawled as quietly as possible.

Indecision flared – I had no idea what to do.

So I cried some more, until shivering took over in the damp chill.

I had to wake up the birthday girl, so she could get her mom.

It still holds the number spot of most embarrassing moment, and the only time I ever went sleepwalking.

* * *

A Secret the Baby Books Don’t Tell You

February 20, 2007

Back home.

My husband cradled our newborn son in his arms, as I trudged upstairs. My feet swelled, my stitches ached, and my body thought it had been run over by a truck. Every muscle hurt even dosed on hydrocodon. I lacked the sensation to pee along with the shut off valve – the consequence of pushing my 8 lb 11 oz baby for over ninety minutes.

My cats swarmed, meowing their demands, scolding me for allowing  my husband feed them. I scooped some food and crouched to dump it into the bowl.

I coughed.

My bladder, beaten and bruised from punching bag duty and labor, took this as signal for release.

Once it began, I couldn’t stop it until every last drop drained.

I stared at the wet stain growing over the khaki pants.

And I laughed. The hysterical, over exhausted, “what the hell is next?” kind.

Very thankful it hadn’t been in public.

* * *

Coughing Corpse

The explosion sound effect echoed and I waited for my cue.

The soldiers burst through the door, turning their weapons on me and other refugees.

I fell, catching myself on my forearms as I rolled to my side.


I slowed my breath, trying not to move.

The lights dimmed, a bloody sheet draped over me.

The lights returned as the scene continued, discussing those lucky enough to escape.

Fumes tickled my throat, still strong from the paint or dye used to stain the cloth.

I sensed it building, deep within. I struggled to squash it, hold it caged.

It grew, until I failed and it burst forth, not once, but in rapid succession.

The audience twittered at the absurdity of the coughing corpse.

The only time I ever broke character onstage.

*~ *~ *~ *~ *~* ~* ~ *

Know what’s NOT funny? People laughing at you.

Take us back to an embarrassing moment in your life.

Did someone embarrass you, your parents perhaps? Or did you bring it upon yourself?

Are you still embarrassed or can you laugh at it now?

* * *

Concrit is welcomed as always.


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos ( sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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20 Responses to Sleep Walking Secretive Coughing Corpse

  1. Carrie says:

    That bladder weakness is so unfair. I can’t do anything anymore without a trickle :p

    Love the image of the coughing corpse!

    • Kelly K says:

      What I want to know is, do you have the same problem if you have a C section and not regular delivery?

      I really wasn’t prepared for that part..

      My director gave me a look after that night, like “Are you going to cough onstage again?” They did wash the sheets a few more times with helped greatly with the smell.

  2. I like the brief style of writing you’ve chosen and the account of the coughing corpse I found clever as it really kept you guessing until the very last moment as to what the situation really was about.

    • Kelly K says:

      I was always so proud of my ability to stay in character.

      The cough beat me, at an unforgivable moment when you could pretend it was a part of your lines.

      I mean.. I was dead.

  3. Erin says:

    Ok I can totally relate to the sleep walking story, except I did it while in bed next to my then husband and couldn’t bare to tell him what happened, I moved to the couch and told him I couldn’t sleep!

    • Kelly K says:

      Wouldn’t he have noticed the wet spot…?

      I’ve had the Pee Dream many times, but always caught myself and rushed to the bathroom, even if I did it in my dream.

      Except once when I was little and sick, and the time I sleepwalked.

  4. Lex says:

    I have heard sleepwalking horror stories of pees. I even had the experience of my 16 year old (when he was 5 & under), actually 2, peeing in a couple of places that weren’t the toilet. I was awake, I saw it all!

    & I remember the lack of bladder control after my pregnancies, too. That was awful. I can totally relate to that. & thankfully, it didn’t happen in public!

    I loved the Coughing Corpse! Great imagery in that one!

    • Kelly K says:

      I’ve found I have to be careful about jumping with anything in my bladder now. Especially things like jumping jacks. I was not prepared for that side effect of having children.

      I learned panty liners are vital when you have a cough.

      And now I hope my son doesn’t sleep walk and pee. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Frume Sarah says:

    I still remember “leaking” just a few weeks after giving birth. One of my friends was over and we started laughing about something. We then laughed about leaking. Our husbands failed to see what was so funny about the whole thing.

    Which made us laugh harder.

  6. julie moore says:

    I liked the way you wrote comedy but kept the elegance of your writing style in tact.

    I’ve had leaking when I sneeze. It’s crazy and it sucks to get old.

    • Kelly K says:

      I figured I’d have to deal with this when I was old.. but I was barely 30… Unless old = once you have a baby.

      Thank you for the feedback.

  7. Jenn says:

    I think this has happened to most of us at one point in our lives! I can definitely relate to how mortified you must have been!

    • Kelly K says:

      It’s funny, how in sharing this story, I am no longer quite as embarrassed (it took years to not be mortified by the post-birth story). Learning so many other moms have had this unpleasant surprise, hiding their secret, makes me feel so much better.

  8. These are hilarious – thank you for sharing these memories. Will be back to share my own.

  9. Tina says:

    Oh, I HATE that leaking! And always at the worst possible time, too!

    Good job joining together three seemingly unrelated stories!

  10. Oh Kelly! I am so sad for that little 9 year old girl. That just breaks my heart. And the bladder leaking totally stinks! Coughing in public is still not a good idea. Or laughing too hard…or sneezing. Sigh.

  11. Tracy says:

    These are good. The coughing corpse made me laugh out loud.

  12. Ashley says:

    I really love how each story connected to the next through the pee and the coughing. Lol. Why does pee always cause us embarrassing moments?! Lol. Great stories. As usual your writing is lovely.

  13. Ilana says:

    I feel for the nine-year-old Kelly! That must have been awful. I had a moment on stage when I was supposed to be frozen throughout an entire scene and for some reason I had the urge to start laughing. I remember digging my nails into my palms to make the urge go away to no avail. It started as a muffled giggle and grew to a shaking uncontrollable laughter that grew and grew with every embarrassing moment. I simply could not keep it in check. That’s nervous laughter for you— humiliating.

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