Near the end of my existence, when I look back upon my life, it is not the nights that I will remember most (great washes of murky darkness), nor the days (bright painful spotlights) but the dawns, the grey gentle dawns, like tiny pearls strewn along the shoreline of my existence.
Perhaps it is because I have seen so little of them that when I do chance to stay awake or be up early enough to see one, the novelty of it imbues it with a surreal beauty.
Do you know the dawns I am talking about?
It’s that hush before the world catapults into frenzied energy, when even the earth seems to sleeping. Birds chirp like silent tinkling bells as they pirouette through the lightening sky. Not all dawns are grey – sometimes, they’re blistered and red – but I enjoy the wintry, clouded, grey ones best. The edges of the world are softened, and when you peer out from a chink in the curtain at the street without, magic doesn’t seem an impossibility. You wouldn’t be surprised if a gaggle of gnomes traversed your front porch; or a great giant came strolling down the streets breathing dreams into bedrooms; or saw the sparkly glint of a fairy’s wing behind a dandelion. It’s a magical, ethereal time.
When you’re awake at that hour, you feel like the only person in the world. All troubles recede into the background of your mind, and your heart balloons with sudden hope for…for life. You hear the sleepy mutters of your family members, and feel a sudden unbearable love and fondness for them that does not often surface during the day.
Even your bedroom feels different. The grey, faded light that pours in through the translucent curtains turn your furniture into a pearlescent wonderland. Your bed becomes a place where ghostly damsels come to rest after a night of haunting and weeping at the shoulders of their still breathing lovers. The wardrobe transmutes into an antique, a fairy portal, behind which tiny spiders knit their silvery, dew-dropped dreams. Your teddy bear wears a look of benevolent sagacity, its plastic eyes full of reassurance that it will look after you, forever and always, and even the carpet, that dreadfully plain carpet, is transformed into a desert washed in moonlight, upon which microscopic men on camels are trekking their way towards salvation.
It’s so quiet. It’s so quiet. The silence is exquisite, caressing. The silence makes you feel safe. The grey light is hope itself, pooling onto the world and dyeing souls in its silvery wonder. Hush. And you don’t know what to do, you want to do so many things at once, spin around your room and pretend to be a prima ballerina, a ghost-chanter, an innocent criminal locked away in a prison on a planet of silver, but you don’t, because the silence seems fragile somehow, like an intricate web of ether, as if one large jolt of sound-waves will disintegrate it all, send it twanging back into the nacreous heart of a spiritual spider poised upon the edge of the universe.
Imagine all those sleeping minds in houses across the country, wallowing in their murky dreams like drowning men and women, men and women who will awaken in the day and pretend their throats weren’t choked with themselves in the night.
Imagine fairy rings opening, toadstools inching away from each other to widen the circles and exhaling spores to the wind. Mists filling the bellies of frogs. Water trickling down gorges, smooth as moonlight. And you just know the people up in the clouds are preparing for the day in the quiet light, squeezing the water out of clouds, ironing out and dyeing their rainbows, opening their mouths into “O” shapes to puff winds across the new world. Even the angels are making their daily rounds, peering down at the people over the edges of the clouds like fathers and mothers gazing upon their slumbering children. They put fingers to their white lips, and smile.
And windows. Windows are stretching; the eyes of the world are beginning to open in a slow, bleary movements. Eventually, you do go back to bed, after standing like a marble statue in the centre of the room for an eternity, and the sleep you sleep is sweeter than mountain water, softer than the clouds.
Hush-a-bye, baby. Sleep well.