You’re still awake.

Thank heavens you’ve gotten rid of all the old-fashioned clocks in the house. The silence all around you is deafening, maddening. You wouldn’t be able to handle the insistent ticking tonight. It’s so quiet you can hear your heart beating, you can hear the sound the skin of your bare back makes against the sheets with every breath you take. Sleep refuses to come and you’ve been in bed, tossing and turning for hours. Or what seems like hours anyway. You don’t know what time it is. You haven’t touched your phone to check the time. You fear that, just by looking at its screen, just by knowing that she’s only a few dialed numbers away, you’ll succumb to temptation and end up calling her.

How could one person matter so much? How can their mere absence cause such a haunting echo in your heart and soul?

You’re weak tonight. There will be no sleep for you; you already know it, you’ve already been here on more nights than you can count.

It’s not the caffeine in your system. It’s not the adrenaline and excitement of the day that has passed that has left you sleepless tonight. It’s not the lack of alcohol either. You’ve become immune to it. Where in the beginning it numbed your senses and so generously gifted you with sleep and oblivion, it now works as an angel of vengeance, striking you precisely where it hurts the most, bringing it all front and center in your mind. What’s the point in even drinking anymore if all you achieve is to remember it all, all the feelings you’re trying to bury, in heightened clarity?

You don’t even remember how long it’s been. It could have been yesterday, and just as easily, it could have been eons ago. For seconds you actually consider the possibility that she was some kind of a bright alluring daydream right smack in the middle of your bête noire. A little light in the dark, seconds of a reprieve from the hell you’ve been settled in.

You can’t remember her face. Not exactly. It’s like a puzzle in your mind, the pieces of which are spread all over a table. Her eyes looking at you, dark irises staring into yours as if she were reading what was etched deep in your psyche. The side of her face as you saw it when she was looking elsewhere. Her hair tucked behind her ear, a pearl earring, obscured by strands of dark brown. Her lips turned up into a wide smile, a dimple on her one cheek as she smirks.

Her body. The way the longer strands of her hair danced on her collarbone when there was a light breeze. The curve of her waist, the point of her elbow, the dimple right in the spot where her hipbone faded into her flat stomach. Each and every beauty mark on her body; all of which belonged to you.

You can’t seem to put the puzzle together, though. You can’t see her clearly. And though you struggle to not think about her, you’re struggling just as hard to see her, if only just for a moment. If only just for the serenity of knowing that, though she’s gone, she’s still there. In some way.

Your mind doesn’t help. Your senses are devious as they decide to join the game. The pitch black that surrounds you allows you to pretend to see her dark hair across the pillow next to you. But the illusion dissolves as your fingers try to touch a strand of it. The wind outside whispers your name in her voice it momentarily seems. And as you turn your face into the pillow next to you, her scent dances just at the tip of your nose.

She would never have left you. She would never have tortured you the way you torture yourself. If she were still here you’d be fast asleep long ago. In the safety of her presence you would have been free to let your body and mind relax, you would have been able to rest with her near. Her breathing next to you would have lulled your mind. Her hand on yours would have taken away the chill.

If you could only see her one more time; if only to calm your ragging heartbeat, if only to put your screaming mind at ease, if only to feel alive again. If only she were there you wouldn’t let her go this time.

You walked out. You opened that door and threw away the key as you slammed it behind you. She must have cursed you when you left. You can’t even blame her for that. It wasn’t that she wasn’t strong enough. It wasn’t that she didn’t love you enough. It wasn’t that she wasn’t good enough. It was you. It’s all on you. What’s your excuse? Now that you’re by yourself, alone, with the ghost of a love you threw away relentlessly haunting you, you seem to owe yourself an honest explanation. So what’ll it be? You’re your own judge and jury tonight, and as it seems, you’ve already condemned yourself to the seventh pit of hell.

Light begins to bleed through the curtains. Morning has come. Yet another morning, yet another new day. You got through another night. You were strong again tonight. You didn’t give in; you didn’t call her and beg her to come back. Your ego strokes your hair, proud of its resilient little slave, as you think that you are just fine; even without her. Together with your fear and insecurity, which murmur the lullaby that has been putting you to sleep since you banished her from your bed, you are close to convincing yourself.

You don’t need her, after all. You got through the night. You’ll get through the next one and the one after that. You’ll get used to the echo, you’ll fill the void you made yourself. You’ll fill her empty spot in your bed. You’ll fill your mind with someone else’s face.

As you turn to your side and your eyes flutter, your crazed insomnia finally ending, you look at the doorway of the bedroom.

She’s standing right there, her dark hair covering her chest, her white nightgown flowing in an imaginary breeze. You can see all her features clearly, every curve of her body, every angle of her, as she leans against the wall. A weight is lifted from your chest as you stare at her. You sigh and breathe easier. Your heart stops pounding in your ears. You become calm and serene just looking at her. She smiles at you, a knowing smirk, she blows you a kiss and turns to leave. Her image dissolves, like smoke, like fog, like a dream, with each step she takes.

That was all you needed. Just to see her one more time.

Author: Nikól Peri

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