Been a long time coming, but finally some posts.

Well, as promised I’ll be posting up some short stories I wrote today.  One of which I’ll likely also be posting for views on Wattpad, for any users there.  I believe I’ll be using Wattpad primarily to share short stories.  Nonetheless, here are the aforementioned stories.

It’s been one hundred fifty six hours since I last slept. I’ve put some thought into this; I’ve had the time…too much time. So tired. I’m always so tired. Lately, it’s all I feel.

So I lie here in my bed. My crypt. My private mausoleum. I lie wide awake in my half asleep state, which isn’t the contradiction it seems. I find myself so exhausted that all I can do to pass the twilight hours is count the moons as they go by. It sometimes seems like the only thing that does make sense anymore; to be so drained from the effort I can’t even sleep.

I lie in bed, alone in the gloom, staring at the thin rays of dull morning light passing between the curtains, and I wait.

What am I waiting for?

It hardly seems to matter anymore. Life has become a never ending drudgery of waiting for this or that. Waiting for the alarm to rouse me from bed, for the bread to toast, for the coffee to brew, for the traffic to move, for the mail to arrive…I am always waiting for one thing or another.

I’m not sure why I’m waiting when I have nothing I look forward to. I suppose I cling to it because I have no other purpose. At the moment I lie waiting for the alarm, but all it signals is the continuation of my futile existence. Another day just like the last; is this my purpose or my condemnation?

My ears perk at the sudden blare of the buzzer. My eyes snap out of their glaze to nothing in particular as I lazily reach over to grope the clock and turn off my alarm with a groan. My hand brushes the row of familiar pill bottles on the bedside table.

Get up. Madison has school.

The sun rises for another day and so must I, for her. I managed it yesterday and all the days before it, so I suppose that is as good a reassurance as any that I can do it again. I rise in what has quickly become my morning ritual; a groan, a brief contemplation of life, and a search for toast and coffee.

I rub the sleep from my eyes in the hall though I can’t recall leaving the bedroom. That’s normal for this amount of sleep I think, but it’s been so long since I last considered myself normal I couldn’t say for certain. My mind is slow to act but the body and tongue know what they are doing, even if both are more than a little clumsy. I call up from the foot of the stairs.

“Time to get up! Get dressed, eat breakfast, get ready for school.”

I linger for a moment to see if the routine will vary. There is no reply and I nod curtly to myself. I had long ago resigned myself to the familiarity of days on days that do not change. Today would be no different than yesterday it seemed. With luck tomorrow would follow suit. If it weren’t for school and work I wouldn’t even know what day it is. One bleeds into the next so seamlessly I sometimes have trouble remembering if things happened five minutes ago or five days ago.

Next thing I know I am sipping on a cup of coffee. Again, I can’t recall coming here from the hallway, or even making the coffee, but it matters not. I read that the brain can shut off for menial tasks when you function on such low levels of sleep, like being on autopilot. Then, when something requires more attention you just snap back to reality.

Alright brain, if you’re so smart what is it I need to do?

I yawn and look around the empty room. I’m sitting on my usual couch cushion right next to the side table where I like to put my coffee down. The television sits on the opposite side of the room on the other side of the coffee table, where the black screen reflects my image back at me. My legs extend out onto the coffee table comfortably, and I shift my feet to block my reflection. I hate seeing myself, but that’s not what stirred me. Something is amiss. I glance to the empty recliner on my right, then to my watch.

Seven Thirty already.

Madison still hasn’t come downstairs. I know I should care on some level beyond basic function but I don’t have it in me. Despite all the operating parts something inside me has gone awry. Something is missing. The love of life is long gone. Madison is my sole bright spot. So I resign myself to a life of routine and service, for her.

I perform all the perfunctory requirements. I make sure there is food, shelter, and school. I go to work, pay my taxes, and contribute to society. When it’s all over I come home and sleep so I am ready for more of the same tomorrow. Honestly, if not for the apathy I don’t think I could feel anything at all. I lack the capacity for anything else.

Even Madison hadn’t been able to help me out of this latest crash. She does a commendable job taking care of me. It’s not her fault.

I’m just broken.

She has so many other responsibilities and people relying on her that it wouldn’t be fair to expect more of her on any account. She tries her best but we both know it’s a losing battle. I think I love her even more for trying in spite of her inevitable failure, but it’s hard to tell when you can’t feel anymore. The medication only makes things worse, it muddies the already murky waters. I’m unable to separate what I feel from the medication’s effect.

“Madison let’s go please! You won’t have time for breakfast!”

I lounge in my seat and still myself while I listen for a reply. I hold the cold, empty coffee mug to my heart. It mirrors the chill of the frigid winter morning, causing my skin to prickle.

Why, Mady?

I would normally say that I despised it when things went against the routine I had painstakingly created. Every movement had a purpose and brought us closer to the next required action in our lives. No energy was wasted. Today, however, I am not normal.

Today I am too emotionally exhausted from trying to feel anything to even work up a twinge of frustration. I mindlessly excise myself from the couch to go upstairs and see what was taking Mady so long. I make the effort up the stairs – even small efforts take a great amount of will – and turn right to head down the hall. I pass the noiseless bathroom and come to Mady’s door, still shut, hearing no sound from within. I sigh.

She’s not even getting dressed yet? She must be exhausted…she works so hard.

I knock on the door with careful effort to not spill my coffee, or as I prefer to think of it the nectar of the gods. If there was one thing I could almost feel for, other than Mady, it was coffee.

“Madison, wake up, we’re going to be late.”

Still nothing. There’s no shuffling of blankets or sleepy moans of protest. There’s nothing. It’s silent as the night.

“Madison!” I grab the handle of the door and push it more violently than I had intended, opening it into the drywall behind with a crunch. For months I had been meaning to put a stopper behind that door. Finally, two weeks ago, I bought the damn thing and left it in Madison’s care.

“It’s your room, you can take care of it.” I had told her. Apparently I was too generous in my appraisal of her ability.

“God dammit Madison.” I feel nothing as I inspect the damage. I have grown accustomed to acting out what feels like the appropriate emotion. In this case, anger seems the appropriate mask to wear. I can usually gauge by Mady’s reaction if I hit the mark or not.

There was a sprinkling of drywall dust on the handle, easy enough to brush off and vacuum later, but the near perfect circle hole left by the knob would need a patch. This was beyond my ability. “Now we need to get a handyman to come in here and fix this…are you even listening?” I whirred around to the bed.

Madison lay in the bed unmoving. I feel my eyes widen and my mouth hang open slack jawed as I take in the scene. My heart skips a beat. The mug of coffee falls from my limp hand, surely staining the white carpets, but I hardly take notice. Laying on its side a few feet from Madison’s drooping hand was a pill bottle, obviously empty. I rush over. At least, I think I did. I couldn’t be sure if I stood dumbly for half a second or half an hour. Time no longer existed, it was an irrelevant construct.

Is surprise an emotion? A feeling?

I lean down to inspect the bottle, my stomach feeling hollow as I pick it up and read it. I feel my brows raise. I blink to clear my eyes before reading the small print again, but the text reads the same the second time over. It’s not a mistake. The pills, anti-depressants, are prescribed to Mady.

Were prescribed.

There were not from my private stash, as I had expected.

Fluoxetine…why didn’t she tell me?

The bottle had been filled yesterday. I look up at Madison as the horror of what I was seeing hit me. My heart wrenches, tears well up in my eyes and I collapse on the bed, covering Madison with myself as if to save her dignity.

I lay there wracking with sobs, tears flowing like the sky opening up with rainfall. My entire reason for living, for being, lay beneath me. She is exactly as I remembered her from last night, but she is also entirely different. Her sharp features are dulled. The colour of her auburn hair is muted. Her warmth is cooled. Her pink skin faded a shade more pale. Her scent faded to something no longer her, but some musk of corpse. She smelled of death.

Through all of it, despite the shock and horror, I feel my lip involuntarily curl into the hint of a smile before vanishing beneath the overwhelming grief again. I hate myself for being able to smile at a time like this, even if only for a moment. I’m not happy, of course, I’m just in shock.

Does it ever wear off?

Madison had done what I thought was impossible, she had got me to feel something for the first time in as long as I could remember To feel again, and to feel so strongly, was a relief even if it was horrible. Madison’s terrible gift. She showed me I could feel again. It wasn’t just surprise, but a real emotion. Raw emotion. I know in this moment the full extent of my love for my beautiful, broken girl. The full extent of what I have lost. I know how hard it would be to move past this moment, to live on without her.

I feel this Mady. I feel…empty. I failed you.

A stream of tears wet my cold cheek as I hold the frail, broken girl in my arms. The grief opens a gaping hole in my heart. I am immobilized; unable to move, unable to think, unable to process. I sigh heavily. I’m tired. I’m always so tired.

Maybe…this means I am free. Maybe I’ll see you soon Mady.

Even now, only a handful of months later I can see many flaws which I would fix in it now, most glaring to me is how the POV is extremely passive.  The story would have had much greater impact as told from Mady’s POV.  I’ll likely try a few revisions to this and throw it up on Wattpad at some point in the future, but this is the copy as submitted.  In order to keep this post short(ish) I’ll post the other story separately.  Thanks for reading!

—CR Alexander

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