[response to things made possible by the fingertips of enunciated hands]

There once was a little boy who couldn’t fall asleep. This is a pretty common problem-little boys are well known for not being able to fall asleep-but stories, warm milk, and counting sheep did nothing to help him. His mother would tuck in his little brother, who passed out like a log, and sit with him and read him stories and feed him microwaved skim non-fat, but he kept his fingers curled tight around the edge of his blanket, staring in the dark. He begged his mother not to leave when she finally sighed and got up.

She loved her son, of course, but she’d worked all day and was very tired and so she told the little boy that she was just going to take a warm shower, and when she came back she’d read him another story.

They lived in a small apartment and the boy’s bedroom shared a wall with the shower, so she promised she wasn’t very far. She showered quickly, massaging her scalp with cheap sticky-sweet shampoo and scrubbing her arms with a loofah she needed to replace.

When she went back to her son’s room, however, she found that his fingers had relaxed around the edge of the blanket and he was breathing steadily, his eyes closed and a silver rivelet of drool falling down his chin.

She soon discovered that the sound of the shower, or of rain falling outside the apartment window, was the only sound that put her son to sleep. She bought a tape, Sounds of the Rain Forest, and played it for him on the days she’d showered in the morning.

The little boy didn’t think about this phenomena until he was much older, when in fact he’d grown into a young man. He was lying on his bed, growing drowsy at the sound of his girlfriend showering, and he realized that when he closed his eyes, the sound of water falling reminded him that the world still existed, and that it was safe to fall asleep.


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