The sleep

Art by KENJI SHIBATA (Japan) ⇔ Fiction by Vicky Lytaki (UK)


We cuddle. Coupled and consumed by ripples of release, swathed in sweet languor. Night night

darling, big hug and nuzzle. I’ll roll over now to fall asleep.

Your rugged warmth pulls apart, your skin breaks touch, the bed splits in two, your side and mine.

Your sleep and mine. I’m left stranded. Snuggled on your back I’d rather nestle in your arms, but I

peel myself off and slink to my side. If we swapped sides would we face each other or end up in

the same position? I’ll ask you to try tomorrow, if you’re not too weary.

Bodies back to back, my tender limbs yield in the lock of your legs. The remainder of your touch a

consolation for having to face the dark on my own. Tonight I must be brave. I entreat your


brightness to guide me out of the shadows. You sustain me. Your breath is my lullaby, your scent

my soporific, I see your beauty behind my eyelids and let the night seize me in motionless life.

Has the body rebuilt and repaired now? Because I know I can shift again, yet not fully revived. In a

confluence of needs I meet you in the middle of the bed, in the middle of the night, in a tight

embrace. Are you as afraid of the dark as I am?

Hands find their resting places on delicate curves and pitch-honed muscles. This is private land

marked by gentle strokes and firm squeezes, nibbles and plunges. The mind wanders in the

sleeping tangle of bodies. I’m carried away as my fingers trace the valleys and hammocks of your


I set off on my own, I schlep through unknown markets, trudge in fenland, clamber over boulders,

they contuse and claw my soft flesh. I know the sea is not too far. The saline scent tingles at my



nostrils. When I reach the coast I can board the ship to London, back to you. I must reach it before

the night falls. For wraiths lie in wait and I’m trembling. I run, I fall, I toss and turn. I run. ‘Thalatta,


I wonder why the sea now smells like tea. Sea is only a letter from tea. Muttering mouth grabs at

mine. I hold on for dear life.001


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