The only submission the darkness gives to light comes from a cell phone propped on top of the nightstand. Every five seconds a tiny beam of electric blue light pulsates from the corner of the device, signaling that someone somewhere is thinking about the owner of that phone and wants to make sure it’s known. At 1:29 in the morning.
I wish the battery of that phone a very succinct and tragic life.
Somewhere way on the other side of the cave someone else moves and makes a confused, mildly sexual noise in their sleep. It probably wasn’t really sexual at all. I don’t know. I’m hearing everything wrong these days.
I close my eyes and find more light behind my thin lids than in the room. I try to find comfort there also, within my own skin. Hoping for a healthy dose of peace and reassurance. Or the good ability to fall asleep would be nice to locate too.
No such luck.
I twirl my eyeballs around in their sockets; eyelids still serving as protective barriers between myself, and whatever it is taking up space in this cocoon with me. Can I even still say with me? Who knows? Maybe I shouldn’t.
My right eye opens, completely against my will, trying to process something in the midst of all the black. Shadows curl along every angle that my eye takes in. Thick swirls of obsidian fill every crack beneath doors, and barricades the small window that seems miles away from where I lay beneath cold black sheets. Yeah, I’m in total darkness. Except for that damn blinkety blink cell phone.
The other person moves again and my eye snaps shut. I clench my right hand, enjoying the feeling of my nails digging into my fleshy palm. My left hand strokes a small corner of the sheet, twisting it into a tight strand of angry Egyptian cotton. My left foot lightly bounces against the mattress. I think about peering under the covers to watch it go, but it’s too dark. My other foot is the one I want to hack off. Preferably before it painfully betrays me. Which means I need to do it like now. That damn foot! It’s as if something on the other end of the tunnel possesses a magnetic quality, and of course my foot is made of lead.
I feel it slowly creep over towards the dark side. Inching across the span of space between us that seems to double with every passing night. I squeeze my eyes shut so tight I feel tiny hairs pop from their follicles along my temples. A part of me yearns for that warmth on the other side. Here in my slice of the pie, it’s drafty. Icy. Anemic. Uncomfortable. Over there…where I once ran for comfort, I always found warmth. But lately it feels like the cold has seeped in everywhere. Even over there. Maybe that’s what my wayward foot calls itself doing. Testing the temperature over there to see if conditions have changed. I could’ve given it the answer. But then again, I don’t seem to be right about much these days.
My skin feels like someone is hovering over me, having lots of fun pricking me with a fire-singed needle. I’m stinging all over, from head to toe. Except for this right foot, dammit. It feels nothing but a slight change in climate as it nears its destination. My breath and an obscenely large lump are caught in my throat and I want to swallow around it, but bitterness never did taste very good.
Bitterness. Anger. Hurt. Pain. Betrayal. Resentment. Lies. Hopeless. Helpless. Scream. Please. Screw me. Over. Help me. Hold me. Leave me. Alone. Forget me. You already have…
My right foot stumbles on its journey. I feel it freeze over and retract, rejoining the whole of its part. The stinging decreases, leaving numbness in its wake. My heart rate slows. I unclench my hands and redirect the tension to my lips, pursing them tightly. I still can’t swallow. My eyes open and I stare up at what would be the ceiling if I could see it. That irksome throb is creeping up behind my eyeballs and I blink rapidly. I’m semi-successful at stopping the flow of recycled and irrelevant tears. Three particularly strong-willed drops escape from my eyes and slide down my temples, disappearing into my unruly hair.
She stirs next to me, disturbing the panicked silence I have created for myself. Maybe I woke her with my unfortunate effort at line crossing. But she shows no further signs of life. I shake my head and close my eyes again. Protective barriers set firmly in place.
If I had it my way, I would fall asleep now, just like that. No questions asked, no life choices pondered. But of course, I haven’t been getting my way lately.So, I just turn over, swallow that lump, and remember to breathe.