The air's so still I can feel you breathing: every inhalation draws me closer; every exhalation pushes me away. I look to the strands of silver moonlight filtering through the curtains. I expect to see their delicate form disturbed, your breath shaping them into flickering waves, like the screen of an untuned television set. But they're still, casting awkward shadows on the wooden floor.
Instead, it is me who is disturbed, me who is unable to sleep. My mind is in such contrast to the calm of the night. Electricity is dancing across every synapse; all neurons are engaged in a syncopated exchange of information. A never-ending reel of images is playing to my mind's eye, backed by a soundtrack of millions of words. The rewind function appears to be broken, though: the pictures and the sounds are never the same twice. Not only that, but there is dissatisfaction with every scenario I entertain. A colour might be wrong, a sentence spoken out of turn, a movement ill-judged, a silence left too long to linger. None of them makes sense to me. There is no logic, no consequence, just a blur of alternatives, each one melding into the last, and no better than the next.
The noise in my head is so loud. Just the same as the rewind button, the volume control is broken, too. I don't want to hear us argue, me at fault, you at fault, or neither of us at fault, just not hearing each other properly. I don't want to hear that song on repeat, but never quite right. Sometimes off-key, sometimes the words wrong, sometimes the tempo skewed. I don't want to hear slamming doors, stomping feet, trickling tears. Over and over and over and over
I close my eyes and I try to listen to the silence. No rustle of leaves. No cooing of pigeons. Not even the crackle of a streetlight. I concentrate on what I can't hear. I find myself focused on your breathing: drawing me closer, pushing me away, rocking me gently. Rocking me gently. A lullaby of silence and a cradle of breath. Steadily, I feel myself slipping into sleep, the blackness overwhelming the technicolour images and the quiet conquering the excruciating noise.
Somewhere, a door slams. My hard-won peace is shattered. I leap upwards: every muscle twitching, disoriented, afraid. Your hand reaches out, strokes my back. 'Don't think so loudly; whisper something in my ear,' you murmur. So maybe now is as good a time as any. Perhaps now is when these words are meant to be said, with no soundtrack, and no colour. I lie down, my lips close to your ear, and I whisper.