Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and tried to go back to sleep only you’re not sure if you were really asleep in the first place. There’s some discomfort as you toss and turn trying to find the perfect position to fall asleep in. Your skin crawls, your t-shirt clings to your skin sticky with cold sweat and the comfort you once found in your bed is long gone. You’re a stranger in your own bed. It feels alien, you feel alien, your thoughts seem alien.
You take out your phone and go through all your contacts. You try and imagine if any of them are having difficulty falling asleep. One by one you dissect their profiles. Most seem to have fallen asleep – they were last seen at 10 P.M. You’d give anything to trade places with them. It doesn’t even need to be peaceful sleep as long as your eyes are shut and you’re numb to the real world. You find yourself missing last night’s nightmare. It was strange. You woke up alone in your bed and it was cold. A coldness that made you sweat and feel hot.
The darkness was unnaturally thick and you could hear heavy breathing. She lay next to you peaceful her silhouette drawn against the light sheets. Her chest heaving slowly with each breath and her eyes shut tight. She seemed to smile. You didn’t know who this was but you felt endeared to her. You wanted to reach out and touch her but when you did she collapsed into a heap of ash and dust. You were screaming – that’s what you remember – when a hand touched you. It was her she asked you to go back to sleep. She kissed your forehead. It’s only a bad dream she said.
You open your eyes for the second time. She’s looking at you. Your nightmares are getting worse she says. She asks if everything is okay. You shrug and say it is. She kisses your head and puts her arms around you. You stay awake long after she’s asleep. How do you tell her your nightmares are about losing her? She will laugh it off. She isn’t going anywhere she’ll say – she made solemn vows. You love her and can’t imagine a life without her. Finally you fall asleep a deep troubled sleep. But it’s sleep, something you haven’t had for days. You don’t wake up till the sun is far up. You wonder why she didn’t wake you up. It’s not like her to let you sleep in – maybe she knows you needed it. She’s thoughtful and considerate reasons you love her. You smile and walk into the shower – a cold one will do. In the kitchen you hear movement. The stove is on and the smell of fried eggs wafts into the bathroom. She’s making breakfast you could do with a good meal.
You take time putting on your clothes. They have been laid out. A white shirt, brown khakis and brown moccasins. Her scent is heavy in the room it’s been lingering and you can’t wait to see her. You walk down the stairs into the hall way and into the kitchen. She’s bent over the stove stirring something up. You sneak up behind her and grab her waist. She jumps and jerks you off.
“Jess what are you doing?”
In front of your eyes she changes. Her long hair is short, her lithe body is curvaceous, she’s not her.
“Where’s she?” You ask
“Jenn. Of course Jenn.”
“Jess…” her voice trails off. “She’s not here you know that.”
“What do you mean? She was here a few minutes ago. Where did she go?” You raise your voice
“Calm down. Let me get her.”
You don’t see her go into the cupboard and pull out a syringe. You’re sitting waiting for Jenn. You feel a slight prick and you begin to drift away. The room spins. Before your eyes shut you hear her talk to someone on the phone
“He still thinks she’s alive. It’s been three months. He needs help. He scares me…”