The clock hand moves.
It’s 8:59 p.m. Only one more minute until it’s time for bed. One more taunting minute until I’m told to prepare for the nightmare. The nightmare that I am forced to live over and over again.
Staring at the clock has recently become a pastime of mine.
Only thirty more seconds until nine.
I see her face. Her stone eyes staring into my soul, reading every sin I have committed in my years, and her teeth. Her gaped razor-like teeth smiling at me, as if I’ve been what she is looking for. What she’s been searching for, for so damn long. And she finally found it. I can’t get her out of my head, my hands tremble at the thought of going to sleep. I can’t handle it, I can’t handle anything when she does it.
She can’t do it again, no not again, I won’t let her-
“Oliver, it’s nine O’clock, that means it’s time for bed.” I hear her voice from across the room, so small in the back of all the thoughts welling at the front of my mind.
“Do I have to?” I find myself saying. The words feel so quiet, yet so loud. So...Removed. “Can’t I stay up for a while longer?”
“You do this every night Oliver, and the answer is always the same.”
“Mom, please, I can never fall asleep. It helps if I stay up later-”
“Go brush your teeth, and get in bed now. I’m sick of your shit, Oliver,” She hissed.
I drag my feet off the bulky sofa onto the carpet, and walk over to her. My movements are slow and trepidous as I lean over and kiss her.
I look up to the rest of the house. I don’t want to do this again.
Maneuvering around furniture, I wander through the kitchen. All nine of the knives placed precisely in the knife block, seven bottles of wine on the wine rack, six stainless steel appliances, and 5 baskets full of cooking utensils. It was immaculate, everything where it always was. It almost felt like a sense of comfort, but made me uneasy at the same time. The kitchen was cleaner than a hospital, anything moved or touched is bound to be noticed. My feet drag on the black and white marble tiles. I can almost hear her yelling at me in the back of my mind without her saying anything; “Don’t drag your feet, it scuffs the floor!”
I have chills.
It was then that I heard it. Loud scream, high-pitched. And what was worse, was that it only seems as if I was able to hear. I looked back through the rooms to my mother, who seems unfazed.
This can’t be happening.
I’m awake. She can haunt me at night, but she can’t make my whole life a nightmare. When I’m awake, I’m away, I’m safe. A new idea came to me, making me reel back internally in horror. If that changed, I don't know what I would do. I could never live like that.
I stumble through the opening to the hallway. It’s long and dark, and I can barely see the adjacent wall at the end. It looks almost sad, with its pearl white carpeting and grey walls. About 30 something family pictures plaster the sides, Good memories from the past that always come back to hurt me. It fills me with dread every night, every time I have to pass them and remember every single second from every single minute of every single damn hour of those years. Those years I had always tried my hardest to forget. But she had insisted on putting them up. She said they made her feel nostalgic, whatever that meant.
Desperately attempting to keep my calm, I turn the light in the bathroom on.
I cup my hands together,before twisting the tap and watch as a steady stream of water began to pour out. Filling my hands, I then pressed the modest amount of water to my sweat drenched forehead. There was something like a drum- A drum taking beat in the back of my skull. And I knew it wouldn’t leave until morning. Because this always happened. But tonight it was worse, and that is what was scaring me.
Brushing my hair back away from my head, I take a moment to look in the mirror- I lock into a stare with my own reflection.
The only thing I see staring back is a monster. A monster with cobalt blue eyes, a dark undertow to their irises, and something deeper than hate brewing underneath the skin. That's what was looking back at me.
Between the time that my breath caught in my throat, and how my feet slowly found the floor behind me, I somehow manage to slam into the wall. I refuse to believe what I am seeing.
She’s here. Her hand leaning closer, almost as if reaching out to stroke my hair. I duck away from her reach.
This can’t be real. It’s not real. This is fear, and fear is not real. Fear is a mind game.
“Go away!” I shout. “Go away, go away, go away, go THE FUCK AWAY-!”
And I’m back in the hallway.
My hand is trembling as I reach for the silver doorknob. The one that seemed to appear out of nowhere. The door is luminescent, contrasting the lighting of the metal trapped between my fingers.
The sound that my door makes is too familiar. Going to bed means nothing to me, I lay awake, even when the lights are out and the world is silent. Pills and powders can’t help me. I’m always wide awake, eyelids stapled open in fear of what would come if they did somehow find their way together.
But tonight as I take each breath I can feel myself getting drowsy. This isn’t what’s expected, this shouldn’t be happening. I’m laying down in my bed, blankets over body and I roll over. I roll over, so that I don’t have to look at anything. There’s nothing to see. The room is getting darker, darker, darker, so dark I can’t see anymore, I can’t see, I can’t see, I’m scared-
I have always feared sleep. It is when my demons came out to play, paint insanity on the walls of my heart and she would be there.
As if she had found what she was looking for, for so damn long.
Finally, my eyelids closed.