He bites down and it tastes of wolves, jaws clashing in the deep of the woods, it tastes of soured milk spilled carelessly across stone, it tastes of the copper-coin heave-inducing flatness of his own blood. He bites down, pressing his teeth together, feeling them meet in the middle. Harder, and his teeth begin to crack and splinter under the pressure. He whimpers and shrieks, voice muffled and tortured by his self-inflicted pain. The creature in his jaws squeals likewise, squalls like the sea. Strands of muscle shear through and he continues to bite down.
Waking with a mute scream. Teeth intact. His arm garlanded with marks, deep red dents flecked with midnight drool. Every night had been the same for weeks now. His wife refused to share a bed with him for the last fortnight; not that she didn’t love him, she insisted. But he scared her. He cried out in his sleep, he bit himself. What if he bit her? He told her, over and over, that he would never. Never. He could never. But, too, he couldn’t guarantee that. So she moved to the spare room, the room they both privately thought of as The Nursery.
He sat at the breakfast table, pushing a spoon through his thoughts. Clink. The coffee reflected his unshaven face, broken into rings and ridges, grey eyes black in reflection. He wore long sleeves on the hottest days and had given up swimming. He picked up a stale-looking croissant and bit into it (bit down and it he squealed muscles tearing jaws clash sour hot blood) without expectation. It was dry, tasteless. More coffee. Wake up. Move forward, push through the day fog, the disclarity of waking. Get through the dream of life to take sleep by the throat. He bit down on the thought. Finished his coffee. Threw the croissant away.