Rustling. Eyelashes and whiskers brushing against pillow case. Soft breath, inhaling, exhaling.

Forrid to forrid. Soft silken velvet. Warm vanilla. A twitch of the ear. A little nose wriggle. Did she smell something in her sleep?

Light shuffles, a paw reaches out and curls over my shoulder. My arm gently rests on her magnificent chest. I feel the rise and fall. I can hear her powerful heart.

Her svelte head shudders, nuzzling closer against my face. Tiny whimpers caught inside the belly of a powerful, large, yet ever so gentle beast.

Yes, the other animal in my bed. Apart from me, of course. She is the gentler one.

We’ve shared the bed since the night she jumped up with me and decided to make me hers. But she, like me, has never desired body contact while sleeping. In fact, when she first came, she would growl when startled in bed, or when I accidentally brushed against her, especially her hind legs and paws.

We slowly established our ‘cuddle time,’ just before bedtime, when I would sing to her, and she’d nuzzle me with that long elegant nose. Another kinetic routine we both enjoy is my massaging her with a very tiny touch of lavender oil on my palm. It relaxes us both. Giving is as good as receiving, in this case. Eventually, she trusted me enough to allow me to stroke her as she fell asleep. Sometimes, she would come to me for extra cuddles. Then we will move to our own spaces and fall asleep, not touching. A year along, we would wake up in the middle of the night, cuddle a bit, but then always fall back asleep in our own little private space.

In the last two weeks, she just decided she wants to make contact when she sleeps. She would press against me, fall asleep and stay that way for a long time, until she stirs and changes position. Then she settles back against my body once more. Some nights, she would even place her head across me and remain there contentedly.

Is it because I have been in a great deal of pain? Does she sense my agony? Is she wanting to comfort me in empathic synchronicity? I do not know, but I appreciate our coming closer.

This is a new experience for me. Novel, because I am actually enjoying it, and even managed to fall into comfortable slumber. I have never liked the feeling of being in physical contact with another body – human or animal – when sleeping. It felt strange when she first initiated this proximity, but I now appreciate it and enjoy it very much.

To me, autism is very much a primal existence, a distant echo of when we were more aware of our beings, much in the same way as animals are. The hypersenses are probably a quirky vestige of our past, useful when we needed to be alert to the sensory nuances of the world around us.

I love to listen to the subtle little sounds she makes in bed, especially now, when she is close to me. The susurrus of love.

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