Strange sounds come from the wife when she sleeps. As I lay there beside her in bed, she displays an impressive repertoire of sounds; there are coos, purrs, and quick sighs, and then there are little snorts, almost of the chortling sort. The most mysterious of all are the clicks. Single, solitary clicks, almost imperceptible. At times, they happen in quick succession, and at other times, I don’t hear them for nights on end. My best efforts to identify exactly where the clicks are coming from within her head have thus far failed (and I am certain they are coming from her head—at first, I thought they were coming from outside, which offers its own rich array of sounds in the night: the regular thumping of music from the sleazy nightclub one street over until 5:30 AM, the constant whoosh of wheels on the street in front of our apartment). I remain in the dark. I have not asked her about the clicks. I dare not. One does not ask wives such questions, and in any case, I doubt she knows.
Last night as I was lying beside her (since giving up drinking, I have been sleepless, which gives me the opportunity to more precisely identify and classify the sounds she makes in the night; I have added to the list chirrups, snickers, and grunts) I heard one of the clicks and sat up, peering at her head, hoping for another so I could more precisely pin down the source. Of course, I do have my theories.
Perhaps it is a mechanism of sorts, not unlike a clock, whirring on arrhythmic gears. Unbeknownst to her, perhaps that device is measuring a countdown to an event of tormentous occasion, such as a disaster: an earthquake (which we all fear in this city), or the discovery that we, in fact, are facing the extermination of the tamandua. Or something kinder, like the birth of my yet unengendered child. Maybe a booting out of the regime. The range of possibilities is immense.
The apartment clicks too. I figured out that it happens at exactly the same time, source unidentified, but it is a different kind of click.
The cat arrives on schedule at 4 AM, and we look at each other. I wonder if she can hear the clicks. If so, that information is locked away in her furry head, right behind that thorny patois of hers.
Sometimes the clicks torment me. I can’t help but think: Do I click too? There is always the possibility that we all click in our sleep. And the clicks go on, like the popping of cherry pits in the night.