3:48 am. I am not certain if I was already awake. It is possible that I was, as I sleep lightly and wake up many times each night. Perhaps I was in the middle of a dream. Perhaps the sound injected itself into the dream, becoming a part of it. This happens often as well; the real and the imagined blur and blend and intermingle themselves.
My nighttime wakings are often accompanied by the sound of my refrigerator, as my bedroom lies right off the kitchen, and it is most certainly one of the loudest refrigerators in the history of the appliance. Of course I could close my bedroom door; but I prefer it open. I look forward to hearing the sounds of my apartment, and noting the different levels of quiet, for the few seconds before I fall back asleep. Besides, the phenomenon of my refrigerator never ceases to fascinate me. I can hardly believe how invasive the sound seems when I read in my bed before sleep. But when I awaken in the night, it is a lullaby hum that soothes me.
Anyway, at 3:48 am there is a bird singing. One bird. I check the luminous red numbers on the clock again and do a broad calculation. The sun will not rise until 5:16 am, so this bird is, indeed, very, very early. I concentrate on his song, blasting loud and strong into the darkness. I imagine, in my sleepy state, that he must be bursting with song; he must possess a need to hail the day with an immense bounty of hopefulness.
His song does not sound joyful. He sounds stretched, strained. If he were a person, he would be just at the point of his voice breaking, or giving out entirely. The veins would be standing out on his neck. This bird is trying way too hard. This bird is a wreck.
It’s hard to know what’s real when noises blend into dreams, and the same exact sound can be either a clatter or a hum, and a one should be able to count on a bird’s song being joyful, and it turns out the bird is a fucking disaster.