I THINK I’ve been asleep. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. I’ve turned the craft of avoiding people into a fine art. Sleeping seems plausible right now because I’m tired and I really don’t want to move, because I’m in the postsleep phase where I’m only kind of awake. It would be incredibly easy to go back to sleep, but I could also get up, even though that would be both harder to do and incredibly annoying, because I’m still too entrenched in that sleepy state where I’d rather be because it’s like being a child again and the Earth isn’t real and nothing really matters because there is no logic in a dream and the only thing that is real is your freedom. That’s where I’d like to go, but something is dragging me out of all of that, and I do not like it, but there is more wakefulness to me than there was only moments ago, and so I must get up.
It’s really unfortunate when that happens.
I’m not in my bed. That’s the next thing I become aware of as my consciousness slips back and my world refocuses. The sheets are too scratchy, the blanket covering me is heavy and cumbersome, and the mattress smells of cleanliness as opposed to mine that smells like home, familiar and lived-in. I have no idea where I am. My eyes flicker open, and I am ambushed by painfully bright lights. I blink a couple of times, trying to adjust.
With the immediate challenges of first waking up and having no idea what the hell is going on out of the way, I try to figure out exactly where I am. But judging by the bed on which I’m sprawled and the air that is filled with dust motes glinting in the sun and the gentle beeping forcing its way into my attention, I’m in the hospital. Again. I groan loudly and close my eyes, pressing the lids together as hard as I can, rubbing my eyes hard enough to see stars floating, swirling gently about, behind my closed lids. My wrist twinges vaguely in pain, the skin not happy with being pulled. Something beeps, and I hear footsteps.
They’re watching me. I blink. I have no idea where that thought came from.
I wonder how I even got here. I never learned to drive, haven’t ridden my bike in years, and don’t cross the highway. Something has to have come up. There’s a logical solution, but I’m still a little trapped in the abyss of sleep, and I know I’m missing the final piece of the puzzle.
I think I can justifiably say that I am very confused.
It’s hard to move. I’m tired and stiff. I’ve probably been sleeping for a while. The bed is narrow, and I’m on my back, but I sleep on my side. There’s an IV protruding from my arm, and the beeping that shatters the peace stems from something that’s taking my pulse. It’s all dreadfully familiar and not an experience I wanted to repeat.
As remnants of memory slide back and click into place, I blink, doing my best to focus in my groggy state, watching experiences of the past months sharpen and contrast, and the bright emotions dominate the murky thoughts of my brain.
Then when I seize the moment that brought me here, what I did and why I am in the hospital, after the initial flurry of memories has passed, my arms tingle in a sudden realization, and I glance toward my wrists and an all-too-familiar chill finds its way into the pit of my stomach before coursing throughout the rest of my body. I groan again but this time in utter frustration when I realize again I’m a failure.
The pristine gauze has slipped free from my wrists, exposing the hideous black stitches that grin at me as they hold my veins together, proudly keeping me alive.
IM COLD and its cold
and im really fucking cold and i want to sleep
and its numb and its cold and ohmygod am i breathing what’s that smell oh it’s vomit oh it’s mine
and dear lord its so cold and goddammit and where am i—oh the snow is so pretty
i think ill sleep now. yes i will sleep in my winter palace
up up im going up why are they taking me thats my river
im weightless and flying and—is that how i look
oh im free and im bouncing—bouncing and rolling
down down i go—their noises hurt my ears
and slamming and strapped in oh lights are flashing are those sirens and whats that darkness
im just going to sleep again. whats in my arm whats on my face
“She’s not breathing.”
“Clear.” Lightning flashes
Ow it hurtsithurtsithurtsithurts make it stop. makeitstop.
“We can get her back.”
“She’s too young, goddamn it.”
“Stay with me, Carter!”
more more more lightning flashes and it hurts and where am i
is that me like that
and why wont they let me go back to sleep
and leave me alone it hurts.
pleaseplease leave me alone
my hand my hand my hand where has it gotten to
oh, never mind.
It’s too hard to think,
My head is so full of cotton
As I swim on the brink of consciousness
I cannot move—
My bones are made of ice
and my limbs are weighted with lead
I am left to struggle against unseen
Bonds which I know nothing of
And I want this, this
So I let it
Finding an escape
Seeking a place
Where nobody can find me
And no one will see me
That’s how it is
Nobody can hear me scream.