On the other side of town; but as far as one twinkling star from another; the old and tired night is a devil; cold and foreign; dark mist wrapped about an heirloom in sixteenth century masonry brooding imperiously, pompous in fading bricks and chipped mortar, over a sad slum of terracotta that slugs up the mud slope in the slow, but persistent, strides of the caracol; dark mist congealing at the third hour by the seductive prodding from a velvet glove into a kind of ooze gurgling through the holes in the mortar and bleeding down interior walls as old and stooped shadows, or if there is even the hint of a breeze fluttering the tree limbs in the humblest whiffs from a candlelight, as morose ghosts chattering all the way out from their graves behind the interior walls in a silent language that is known only to themselves. And yet this blanketing ooze is an affectation of a thief; a gloved charm caressing to steal, when the mind is most at ease by what passes in sight as an impenetrable god of a kind of sad, but benign, tranquility; a crime masked in indifference; a robbery of innocence lost in that tepid limbo of an eye turning away from the rancid meat breaths and the soiled underpants to a darkened bit of nothingness stained into the blanket; so that its coarsened weave sucks out what warmth may have been left from an afternoon long since lost, muddled in with the rest of the ancients of days, and perverted from what it had been by a memory rearranging puzzle pieces to advance her own agenda.
And so sleep is a grace; a denial of the rape as no more than a fog sifting in and out from past and future nightmares; a comfort when the pains would be most raw; and, therefore, an indication that we are not yet mired in Hell, even as we are insistent upon lugging its hand basket around with us everywhere and even cradling it in our chests under our satin sheets at night. Because without a few hours lost to sleep, ours would be a mind sufficiently bored by the shadowy brood, the frozen stillness of a corpse transfixed at that moment just before its color fades from blue to purple and its meat sours, as to entertain questions far and wide better relegated to the unvisited graves of ancestors too distant to be family. And so sleep lies; subverting our mind to those firework blasts in a trifle of a dream that suggest a kind of life unto themselves, when in fact we are lost in the very same death that moves the satin sheets imperceptibly in the shroud of darkness or that flutters unthinkingly in the shadows cast on walls by old and diseased trees; and whispering the sweet nothings that seem to unshackle rusty chains and to lift dead hearts through a tunnel of light, past happy ghosts at an ornate picnic on a grassy knoll, beyond long lost loves wagging tails and running over to us from within the rainbow in an airy fairy dew. And so sleep is the mad rush of devils masquerading as snails slugging across an open leaf; the chuckling conspiracy born from the meeting of spear tips beside hot cauldrons of weeping and gnashing of teeth, but sold and purchased as the sleep in the rest of peace; the illusion of eternal life in a loss of hours, when in fact the cuckoo clock ticks on the wall and the little smile in a sombrero pops out at the top of every hour.
But Reina does not sleep. She catches a nap every now and then, when a sick wave of exhaustion; similar in feel to a physical hunger that has been given free reign by a bored stomach to shout with an acid tongue and to knock over a priceless vase or two unless and until the help serves the barbecue brisket; just suddenly bubbles up from her bowels and stirs her drowsy nausea into a quarter of an hour of unreserved death. She manages to stumble into her restless bouts of something or other; not quite sleep; but a kind of morose gray made out of a dark shadow against her bedroom wall in which her sculptures, the tools of her craft, and even her shavings swept up and retained in the urn that has been set aside for her own ashes, come to life and sing silly ditties in the Old German of her long dead ancestors. She succumbs to this affectation of rest only after the witching hour; after the hag huntress Diana, hooded by the omen in the night canvas that is bereft of stars, spills into the bedroom as graying light chastened of its attachments to what it is shining out from the blackness; has roused her from beneath her tear stained sheets to bathe in what has been foretold by the movement of a tired moonlight against her womb and then to cower in a corner shadow with no more mind but to chisel out a few more shaves of wood flesh from the dead bone awaiting her.
And in this sense, these few hours before dawn are no different than the others. She is shivering in her nightgown in a corner; eyeing the witch light that caresses everything in its path out from the blackness and into a sad and lonely twilight; and cutting away at something that has yet to suggest any form that is discernible apart from her own imagination.