Probably some time after 1, maybe even 2. I don’t want to check. It’s better if I don’t know. I was sound asleep, or at least, I thought I was. Something, it could have been a lock of hair falling onto my neck a certain way, it could have been an itch on my ankle, woke me. I didn’t startle, I just…woke.
I cautiously open my eyes and peer around. The room is very dark. I can hear the dog breathing. I can hear my spouse breathing. I know he is in full REM sleep because his breathing changes. I turn my head slightly to look at him. First, he’s just an outline. Then, as my eyes adjust, I can make out his features. His eyelids are moving. Must be dreaming.
Must be nice, I think. I’m so tired. But I’m so awake.
I turn, try to find a new comfort zone in the bed. I’m too warm, so I slide my feet out of the blankets. I cross them, use the toes of my right foot to rub the top of my left foot. I flex them, point my toes hard, as I imagine ballerinas do, and then relax again. It’s still too hot for me. I turn onto my right side and slide my left leg out of the blankets, draping it over top of them. Better.
I realize that my house has an ever so slight hum to it at night. The cacophony of sounds that reverberate throughout it and collectively create a soft, consistent noise. The sounds of the dogs breathing, the kids, my husband, myself. The light noises everyone makes when they shift and turn in their sleep. I’ve often been told that I make all sorts of little noises in my sleep. I moan. I hum. Sometimes I sing a little. Thinking about it, I relax my throat and let out a long sigh. There’s a natural sound, a lilt, that happens when I do that.
I bring my hands together under the blanket and press the pads of my fingertips together. Then I press on the inside of my palms with my thumbs. Sometimes it relaxes me to do that. I take another look around my room now that my eyes can see more. I try to imagine new things from the shapes my discarded clothes make on my vanity bench. I try to envision nights from long ago when the children were babies and night had a different sound altogether. I’m almost wistful for those nights when I sat up in bed with a small baby tucked into my arms, nursing them, whispering to them.
But, there are no babies in this house. Only tall and beautiful teenagers, young adults. Sleeping peacefully in the knowledge that their parents are in the other room and all is safe in their worlds. I close my eyes. Run through the Rolodex in my own imagination and pick out the things I want to be thinking about when I fall back to sleep. I choose the places I’d like to visit while I dream.
I let out one more soft sigh, tuck my hand under my pillow near my face, and allow the dark to wash over me again.
Hopefully, until morning.