I sleep for an hour or two at most. I can't distinguish my dreams from my thoughts.
Have I been asleep? How long have I been asleep? I struggle, watching you snoozing soundly, thin eyelids gently undulating your eyeballs watching your dreams. I grasp you even tighter, hoping to squeeze out some sleep.
I pinch your shoulder, hot and hard, spurred on by my fury, my distress at losing you for the night. You wake up and swear at me. I am pleased. I repent. I deny I've done it. I feel smug all the same, knowing I can still exercise control over you as you sleep, nipping you into consciousness.
When I learnt to walk, I learnt to sleepwalk too. My fatigue followed me around the house like a security blanket. As I got older, my nocturnal actions became more accomplished: tender rosebuds picked carefully from their stems and arranged in a semicircle in front of the television, squares cut from the hems of clothes then secreted in school shoes.
The sleepwalking stopped. The Dream began. Always the same: a precise sequence shocking me into wakefulness. Me, small waiting outside a door, knowing what's going to happen, set on a dream-track that can't be diverted, sick inside rising to my eyebrows. The door opens. Featureless. Pristine. Perfect. So much light, the room sings with it. Solid and humming ushering me in.
Are they in the room already? No. They are made from its glare. I'm terrified. I don't move. I wait. They glide toward me. I recognise their step, their stealth, their advancing speed. I know what's going to happen. I'm only nine in dream-time. I'm four stone. I'm as light as a kitten. They toss me out the window.
I hit the ground. No pain just relief, accompanied by a readjustment of the pavement around me. Content, I lie sniffing it. What does it smell of? Petrichor: sunny rain. I cherish these secret steps my brain makes when it thinks I'm beginning to fall asleep, the confidential connections. My generative dream-tissue: it fuses, it fizzes, it endures. It makes sense.
My mind burrows for alleviation. Confounded until at last I recall the polished surface of Sizewell's dome. A giant white ceramic egg near the beach. Featureless. Pristine. Perfect. The blankness soothes me, I imagine myself floating inside it. Did I sleep right through, uninterrupted until the morning? You know, I think I did.