Nightlight

3:43 a.m.

He feels the bed shift as she gets up; hears he bare feet padding across the floor in the darkness.  The only light from the nightlight plugged in the hallway illuminating her movements.  He closes his eyes seeing her in his minds eye.  The familiar press of her hand against her chest, holding her breath like she holds in the pain, as tears fall.

3:54 a.m.

He hears the front door close softly.  She wears his hoodie because she can get lost in it and when she lifts the hood she feels completely hidden.  Her breath puffs in the cool autumn night and she hears the crunch of dried leaves.  She walks silently, avoiding streetlamps, letting the darkness envelope her trying to breath deep and slow but failing.

4:25 a.m.

He sits on the edge of the bed, runs his hand through his hair, and stares out the window contemplating whether to wait or find her.  He picks up his phone, the light illuminating his face in a soft blue, and asks Are you okay?

She pulls her phone from the pocket of his hoodie and stares at the screen, her thumb hovering over the keyboard, not wanting to lie but not wanting to tell him the truth.  Go back to sleep, I’m almost home.

He reads her message; a response but not an answer.

6:59 a.m.

Sitting on the front porch she watches the sky lighten as the sun rises.

7:00 a.m.

She hears the alarm go off in the bedroom then silence a moment later.  He rolls over feeling the empty space and cool sheets next to him.  He gets up and makes coffee.

7:17 a.m.

She looks up at the sound of the front door opening.  He holds out a cup of hot coffee, the steam rising perfectly like in advertisements, and feels a brief touch as her fingers brush his.

“Did you sleep well?” She asks softly, putting her head on his shoulder when he sits next to her.

“Did you sleep at all?” He asks concerned.

She sips her coffee and he wipes her cheek with his thumb.  The nightlight in the hall switches off as the sun rises higher.

Voodoo

There was the familiar break.  Her mind shifted from reality, from the monotonous grind of life, to an inexplicable darkness. Alien to most but to her, familiar and comforting; a welcoming escape.  She let it fall. She let her mind drift.  She let her feelings shift.  Her pupils widening as the hit of delirium consumed her.  She did not struggle, did not fight in fear; instead choosing to fall into the delusion like a voodoo priestess succumbs to the spirits.  She let it lure her, lead her, down, into a deep abyss, like a snake bite draining it’s victim of life.

The rain soaked streets glistened under the street lights as he hustled across the parking lot.  Pressing the button on his key fob, his car blinked and beeped in response and he felt a small rush of gratitude.  The late October chill filled the night and crept into his bones as he slipped into the drivers seat.  Pulling the door closed with a satisfied thud he quickly started the car and turned up the heat.  He breathed deep, filling his lungs, and releasing the days tensions as he released his breath in a calming sigh.

The road glistened in the rain, his headlights creating a tunneling effect, as he made his way through the night.  Autumn leaves littered the medians, orange and yellow, and barren trees lined the horizon.  He squinted in the heavy rains and darkness feeling the tension in his shoulders.  Slowly making his way off the exit, meandering down a winding dark road, he clicked on the high beams and suddenly slammed on the breaks as a figure randomly appeared in the center of the road.  A dark hooded figure standing stock still shocked his system.

She blinked in the glare of the headlights feeling her heart racing at the sudden shock of a car stopping inches from her.  He cursed, opening his door, the rain momentarily ceasing.  “What the hell are you doing in the middle of the road? Are you trying to get killed?” He shouted angrily.  The hooded figure raised its head slightly revealing a pale face, lips bright red, and green eyes captured by the light of his high beams.

A breeze blew across the road causing a swirl of leaves to dance and the hem of the cape to sway.  She ducked her head as if bowing in apology but remained silent.  His anger cooled, “Do you need help?”  She turned away in response.  “Are you okay,” he asked concerned, stepping a little further from his car.  She lifted her head again and he saw her deep emerald eyes like a cat staring in the darkness as a chill passed through him.

“No need to fret,” she said softly, almost imperceptible, as the wind blew the leaves again.

He hesitated unsure what to do next when the chill he felt moments earlier turned to a soothing tingle, like the feeling of fingers softly trailed over his skin, and his shoulders released the tension he felt while driving. His mind blurred, thoughts dissipating, but his vision focused on the silhouette that stood before him.  Crisp and sharp like a fresh image embedded in his mind and the cat-like green eyes pierced his perceptions of time.  He had no idea how long he stood there, motionless and silent, but he felt nothing but a peaceful embrace as he waited for time, and his senses, to recalibrate.

He felt the shift from reality to delusion in that moment and instead of fear or struggle, he let it slip over him like slipping into a warm bath, the water soothing and relaxing instead of bracing.  He heard a voice in his mind, embrace delirium, she is gentle. He couldn’t identify where it originated since the figure before him remained motionless and silent.  Her lips did not move yet he heard the voice as clearly as if he wore headphones.  He asked, “Did you say that?”

“No,” the hooded figure said softly, “but she says the same to me.”
“Can she be trusted?”
“That is for you to decide,” her green eyes blinking slowly like a cat.
“I feel unusual,” he said calmly.
“So did I, the first time,” she responded just as calmly.

She blinked a few times clearing the dryness from her eyes and she slowly shifted back to the mundane.  Staring out her office window, she watched a man rush towards his car in the rain.  A Cheshire Cat smile lifted her lips as she knew within the hour she’d stand at the crossroads of a dark, windy rain-filled autumn road and discuss delusions with a stranger.

*Photo Credit

Sunset

Watching the sun set, burning the sky in bursts of orange and purple, she downed another shot of bourbon.  She felt the numbness, the feelings slowly burning into ash, like the sun burning the sky.  It was all a heartbeat away from darkness.

How are you doing

A simple text.  A simple question.  The answer fraught with tumultuous responses.  Her thumb hovered over the keyboard; how should she respond?  She wanted to talk, needed to talk, wanted the connection but hesitated.  Aloof?  Perhaps pithy.  Anything to hide her desperation.

How are you doing?

A simple avoidance.  She wanted to talk; correction, needed to talk, but a simple deflection to keep the focus off herself.  She didn’t want to lie, didn’t want to say I feel like shit, as usual. Easier to deflect and ask about him, keep a conversation while avoiding anything to do with her state of mind.  The conversation flowed.  Stalled.  Flowed again and turned to music.  Songs perfect for you he said.  How does he know the perfect way to break her?  The songs to make her speechless; bring her to tears.  How does he see her so clearly even when she tries to hide?

The sunset slowly burns the sky to darkness.  Trails of color falling, fading, as she watches, heavy lidded from alcohol, until the stars sparkle in the darkness.  Her heart aches, sensucht, yearning for something indescribable, something that will never arrive. She checks her messages. Nothing.  She waits, hoping, holding the phone like a precious stone, the only connection to someone.  The only connection to him. Sensucht.  He is what she yearns for; a connection.  Love.  Someone to see through the darkness that haunts her daylight.

Are you okay?

She hesitates.  She downs a shot of bourbon.

He waits.  Checks his phone; nothing.

Are you there?

She watches the sun set.  The light burning into darkness.  Her thumb hovers as her mind races through responses.  Don’t lie, no, don’t say fine, don’t tell the truth, I want to die, her mind shifts slowly, drunkenly, through responses as the sun falls beyond the horizon.

*Photo Credit