Saliva gathered in silky strings and pooled in the plastic basin of the mouth-guard he wore to sleep at night. For years now he had been grinding his teeth as he slept. All those years all that grinding. His teeth were down to nubs and he didn’t even know the true cause of it.
At night, after the thrashing amidst heavy bedding stopped he was aware only of darkness. Everybody dreams his psychiatrist insisted. You just don’t remember them. It is perfectly normal. Tell that to his worn down chiclet teeth and mangled tongue. It had gotten so bad over the years that his speech patterns changed to the point that he rarely spoke at all anymore.
He had ditched the psychiatrist but kept the mouth guard. The medication, while a colorful array to look at, and sort into piles sat in tinted pill bottles scattered about his dark, musty bedroom. Tonight he lay there in bed. Awake. Waiting for the moment when his saliva would spill over the walls of the guard and threaten to choke him. A bizarre form of water-torture. He craved the darkness of sleep so his mind could rest. It wasn’t stress exactly, he couldn’t put his finger on it. While he craved the darkness he dreaded awakening in the early hours to spit out the saliva and blood that gathered in his guard. If only he could put his finger on why he ground his teeth all night. He had quite literally gotten rid of every potential conduit of stress in his life; quit his job, took care of his silly girlfriend, sent his small, yipping dog to the pound. And still. No rest. Only darkness and blood and spit all night long.
He rolled over in bed kicking at the mess of sheets and blankets trying to achieve some level of comfort. His spittle splashed and ebbed in the mouth guard and some drained into his throat. He gagged and spat and thrashed; an unsettling dance. The frustration so great he cried out loudly. It felt so good between coughing fits, he drew in a great breath to cry out again. His plastic mouth guard floated on a sea of spit the aft turning toward its throaty purpose. Suddenly, on the inhale it slipped easily into position. All crying out ceased as the airway closed around the device forming a seal. He tried breathing through his nose but was unable to focus in his panic. Slowly, his face turned the color of his pills, yellow-green, red, blue, and purple and the darkness was complete.