The grinding keeps us awake all night. The slipping noise of tooth against tooth, the squeak and rasp of shiny enameled edges filing monotonously against an equal occluded opposite. The unconscious jaw, clicking sideways in and out of position like a ventriloquist’s dummy, mouthing an obscene joke with bitter accuracy.
The night song has a complex structure. It builds slowly, interrupted by snores, moans and moments of suspended silence when we hold our cyber breaths and listen for the start of the in-and-out again.
The grinding keeps us awake all night but we are never tired. The systems do not stop. Mechanical, electrical, impulse. Loom, hand, network, mind. We make new connections in every direction, up, down, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, lateral; new possibilities between terminals, switches and particles; new patterns from threads, colours and matrices. You are here and not-here, your hidden eyes searching another landscape, scanning left to right, looking for answers that you will forget on waking. We cannot dream but we know you do. You dream all the time.
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“And this is the sign for asleep,” says Alison, closing her index fingers and thumbs together in front of her eyes. “Go to sleep now my darling.”
She smooths out the duvet cover with her hands, uncreasing the printed astronaut suit, flattening the stars in their cotton void, repositioning the blue Earth from sliding off the side of the bed. She kisses Bill’s hair, feeling his fragile skull millimetres away from her lips. “Night night.”
“Night night Mummy,” he says.