4am

Imagine it’s 4:13 am. You’re lying in bed with your head where your feet go and your feet on your pillow. Your right arm lies limp, phone in hand, casting a dim light on the ceiling. You should be sleeping. You have no more to stories read, no more pictures to look at, the more things to look up. Your eyes hurt and beg to be closed but you don’t sleep. Instead you roll over and open instagram for the sixth time and scroll through the pictures you’ve already seen.

You have no problem with sleeping or falling asleep. When you fall asleep all the muscles you didn’t know you were using start to tingle, then relax. The world fades to white noise and your body gets that cozy kind of warm. Sometimes after lying still with your eyes closed for a while you start to feel weightless and the bed feels more like the porch bench swing you once sat on when you were a kid. You love it. While you’re sleeping you get to see the most wonderful stories. During the day you have to scroll through webcomics and flip through books and stare at screens to get stories and to create your own you have to put in so much work for something you can’t even see, but in sleep it’s there and it’s easy and no matter how random and convoluted it still makes sense. Even though you can never seem to remember a sense of touch you feel fear and love and it’s perfect and you love it. You’re issue it’s with sleeping, it’s with waking up.

When you open your eyes in the morning your stomach feels as if it has shrunk. Your chest feels like it wants to expand but there’s a weight pressing down on it and your throat drops down into your chest cavity. You try to take deep breaths in through your nose, in through your mouth, but there’s a sharp pain right under your collar bone followed by a dull burn. Then you realize what this feeling is. It’s the feeling when you’re taking shallow breaths and you breath in too fast. It’s the feeling you got when you pretended to hyperventilate that one time, just to see what it felt like. It feels something like how you remember fear. And somewhere in you brain the idea that if you move it will only get worse appears, so you just lie there. You lie on you side and stare at the door and try to distract yourself with your phone and it’s hard to breath and you’re afraid, but you don’t know what of. The joint between your legs and hips starts to ache because there’s some muscle somewhere that’s been tense since you woke up but you don’t know which one. No matter how much you stretch and bend you legs the tension won’t go away and you’re afraid.

Eventually the burning feeling sinks lower and lower, then fades to a light squeeze on your chest and a heavy stomach. This is when you roll out of bed and drag yourself, phone in hand, out the door and into the bathroom to brush your teeth. You hate it.

So who can blame you when it’s 4:13 am and you really, really don’t want to go to sleep.

 

 

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Clouds

You reach up into bottom of the cloud, wrap you hands around a piece of ice, and pull it out. Grinning, you smooth frost off the outside of the sphere with your shirt sleeve, then, holding it close to your chest, you zip away.

Zooming across the sky in unstable spirals, you laugh and gaze down at your sphere of ice. Soon a wispy white cloud comes into view and you call out, “Mother!” On top of the cloud she lazily lifts her head, squinting at you as you race towards her. Then her eyes widen and she ducks into the cloud right before you go flying through where her head used to be. You screech to a halt, back up, then lower yourself onto the cloud as your mom slowly lifts herself back up. Her wispy hair is pointing in every possible direction and her eyes are still half closed. She pulls her shawls back up on her shoulder.

“Mother, look!” You shove the sphere of ice in her face with a huge grin. “Isn’t it great! I finally found on that’s the perfect shape!”

She yawns. Her eyelids flutter. “I don’t understand where you came from,” she says, then starts to lie down again.

Suddenly your stomach tightens and you desperately throw the ice up into the air and grab her arm. “Mother! Come on mother, stay awake.”

She hangs limply and glares up at you. “Why?”

“I found a piece of ice to make the navigation instrument I read about. I need you permission to leave now.”

Finally, she sits up. She readjusts her shawl with a sharp flick, then flicks your forehead. “I don’t know how my child ended up like this,” she says angrily. “Always zipping around like some maniac. You don’t need to leave. Just go back to your cloud and sleep.”

“But-”

“No.”

You stare down at the cloud. Your mother lies back down and curls up under her shawl. “But mother,” you say, voice hardly above a whisper. “There’s so many things to see. I want to see the ocean up close. I want to visit the mountains and see humans and cities. I want to try food.”

“You don’t have to,” you mom mumbles from under her hair. “Just sleep. Dream. If you dream you can do all those things and so much more. And you never have to put yourself in danger or worry or get lost.” She waves her hand limply.

“But it’s different. If you would just try-” You look down at the steady rise and fall of your mother’s chest. Her hair blows up with every exhale until there’s a little opening around her nose. You give her arm a light poke. When she doesn’t react you slowly back up. When you bump into the sphere of ice you freeze. You gently pick it up. You look at your sleeping mother, then at the piece of ice, then down at the ground below you. Then you quietly fly away cradling the ice close to you chest.

Perhaps your mother will dream of you.

Survive

Lying in your bed on Monday mornings gives you space to think. Waking up too early gives you time. An image of a face, hair wet, expressionless, staring straight, gives you something to think about. The image turns into a clip, then into a scene, and the face falls back, out of the shot created by the camera in your mind.

Lying in your bed on Monday morning under layers of blankets and stuffed bears at 6:30 am the scene plays over and over again and you don’t know when but at some point the face becomes yours. Your lips are parted, you stare into space, then let your body relax and you fall. The weight of your bag pulls your down the half flight of stairs and suddenly there’s silence. And numbness. And you fall the way you imagine a feather falls from an angel’s wing even though you don’t believe angels are real.

Suddenly the camera is seeing out of your eyes. You know you’ve hit the floor. Something pulls you back up standing. Then you relax again and gravity pulls you down the next half flight to the next full floor. It repeats over and over. And somehow you’re still alive. There’s a pulsing in your head and it must be bashed and bleeding but you can’t see. You can’t hear. You can’t feel. And you know this isn’t real.

But sometimes you wonder how many stairs you’d have to fall down to die.

The scene ends at 7 when your phone starts to scream, making your heart rate increase and making it harder to breath. Then you realize that it’s not screaming, it’s just notes, an urgent tune telling you to wake the fuck up. Get up get up get up get UP. So you do. You push yourself out of the comfort of blankets and stuffed bears and get ready for the day. And somehow, getting dressed too early on a Monday morning, you just do, don’t think. And that week you survive.

via Daily Prompt: Survive