My ears wake me. Or maybe it’s the stars. At 1:34 a.m. — always 1:34 a.m. — like some kind of Twilight Zone moment. I guess my ears collude with stars that twist across the sky, wanting me to notice all that whispers and whooshes, gurgles, bumps and whirs during that mysterious time of night.
Dan’s soft breathing into his CPAP air machine is always first to gain my attention. The CPAP gives off a continuous, soft whoosh, but underneath is Dan’s even softer breath. I always listen for the breath. In. Out. Breathe, Dan, Breathe. Good.
Overhead, the ceiling fan makes another kind of rhythmic whisper against the air it creates. All night, I pull on my covers or throw them off — pull them on, throw them off — in a kind of blanket dance that only my failing internal temperature gauge understands.
Just outside our room, a refrigerator whirs and clicks its way through the night. Each on-cycle lasts about a half-hour’s worth of whirring and clicking before it quiets itself for … oh, about a nanosecond.
The dogs dream their doggie dreams with legs running sideways on the carpet, whimpers and whines puffing from their cheeks. They quiet when they’ve caught their dream-quarry or escaped the chasing beast.
Dan turns in bed, now always accompanied by a whoosh and a breath.
A toilet burps.
I hear another hair fall from my head and follow the sound of it skittering across my pillow.
Somewhere near 3:35 a.m. a dog turns and sighs. Always 3:35 a.m. Two hours and one minute of listening to the sounds of night. Of sleeping others and the blips and dings that occur during that stretch of time. At 3:36 a.m., I roll over, causing a sluice of sheets to cascade around my ears.
At last, the house holds me safe and I fall back asleep — amidst the sound of a constant night, a starry, starry swirling night.