Never Wake Up

As the moon rises higher in the night sky and the stars slowly come out to report back to their leader, I sit at the edge of my bed. 

With a weary rub of hands over my face, I fall back onto the bed. I don’t bother to pull my legs up, to straighten and become more comfortable, there is no point, I know the routine. Instead, I reach over and pull the blankets over me and close my eyes. 

My ears buzz. 

I imagine it is my minds way of dealing with the eerie silence that always takes over. 

As my body relaxes, my heart slows and my breathing becomes more labored, the buzzing subsides for a moment. 

Suddenly the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, a hot breath breathing heavily on my ear and the side of my neck. “Wake up.” The whisper is so loud I can feel it vibrate through me. 

Jumping up, I let the blanket fall to the floor. 

Looking around the empty room in the daylight, I lift my shoulders and try to push the familiar voice from my mind. Slowly rolling my head around on my neck, I attempt to ease some of the tension. 

For a moment, I become aware of the mechanical beeping. I never know where it is coming from, maybe the apartment neighboring mine. It’s something I’ve heard so often and for so long that I scarcely remember it anymore. Frowning, I walk over to my closet and begin to get dress. 

Falling into morning routine, I leave my bedroom fully dress, hair in a high bun, patent leather pumps on my feet, high powered business attire. Where I work, I am important, and I need to look the part. 

Grabbing hold of my designer briefcase, I pour fresh coffee into my travel mug and go out the door. 

It takes me mere moments to get down to the parking garage and into the car, driving. It happens so fast, I almost don’t remember any of it. It’s as though I reach for the doorknob and open it right into the car, seat belt on, morning radio playing softly and I am pulling out of my underground parking garage. 

I guess routine will do that to you, shut your brain off and move your mindlessly through.

Sighing, I pull out into heavy traffic and make my way into town. 

I’m on the freeway, the sound of horns is deafening. I look around to see where it’s coming from. 

My breath catches, stuck in my throat as I see the sleek black SUV racing towards the side of my car. I open my mouth to scream, but nothing comes out. 

My eyes close, I don’t want to see this.

“Wake up.” The breath is so hot on my neck, it almost moistens my earlobe. 

My eyes snap open and I jump up, letting the blanket fall to the floor. 

Reaching up, I touch a hand to my chest. My heart is racing, as is my mind as I try to remember. I shake my head to clear it, this is all a dream, yet it had felt so real. I replay as much as I can in my mind, trying to make sense of it. 

A mechanical beeping draws me out of my thoughts and I frown. I really wish whatever it was would shut up, I can barely hear myself thinking over it’s loud, repetitive beeping. Annoyed and sure I am running late, I go to the closet. 

Leaving the room, I walk out as usual to get my coffee. I stub my perfectly manicured toe clad in my expensive patent pumps on something. Stumbling for a moment, I catch myself against the wall and moan. Looking back over my shoulder, I pause. 

I pick up the heavy wood in my hand, eyes wide, brow creased in confusion. 

A small wooden train.

Where could it have come from?

I stare at it until the beeping sounds so loud I am sure it will drive me mad. Getting up, I shove the train in my purse and go to the car. 

I’m on the freeway, the sound of horns is deafening. I look around to see where it’s coming from. 

My breath catches, stuck in my throat as I see the sleek black SUV racing towards the side of my car. I open my mouth to scream, but nothing comes out. 

My eyes close, I don’t want to see this.

“Wake up.”

Eyes snap open as I jump out of bed. I let the blanket fall to the floor and instinctively raise my hand to rub and the warmth on my neck. Frowning, I look over at the messy bed. Walking over slowly, I reach down and pull a white cotton t-shirt from under the mess of sheets. 

Holding it between my hands, I note the size. Men’s medium. 

I don’t know why, but for some reason I lift the shirt to my nose, inhaling it deeply. It smells of musk, a mildly scented lotion and… happiness. Shaking my head, I laugh at the thought. As though happiness was a scent, what a thought. I laugh it off as i get ready, walking from the bedroom dressed to impress. 

Pausing in the hallway, I drop down to rub my hands along a scuff in the floorboard. “What-” I look around. 

No one. 

Just me, always just me. 

Frowning, I reach into my purse and pull out the heavy wooden train. “Always just me.” I say aloud, feeling the weight of the children’s toy train in my hand. 

My brow furrows, a tension headache coming on as the beeping pulls me from my thoughts and pushes me out the door. 

I’m on the freeway, the sound of horns is deafening. I look around to see where it’s coming from. 

My breath catches, stuck in my throat as I see the sleek black SUV racing towards the side of my car. I open my mouth to scream, but nothing comes out. 

My eyes close, I don’t want to see this.

“Wake up.”

My breathing is hitched, panicked as I jump from the bed. I look at the t-shirt on the bed, the two imprints on the messy sheets. It’s as though I had shared the bed with someone, but I can’t remember. Who would be in bed with me, and why weren’t they still here?

I don’t go to the closet, instead I race down the hall. The scuff is still there on the floorboard, above it, marker drawings. Frowning, I run past it into the living room. It’s immaculate, clean and pristine as always. 

No, I realize as I walk past the leather coach and peek behind it. 

The rubber puzzle piece mat is completely covered with markers. As I back up, I stumble, knocking a mug of cooled coffee off the coffee table and onto the floor. “What’s happening?” I clamp my fingers down over my ears and the beeping starts. 

“Wake up.”

“Wake up.” The little boy sits beside the hospital bed. His eyes are bright red as he reaches his little hands over to shake his mom who lays still under the white hospital sheets. 

Coming behind him, his father lifts him up. His eyes too are red, their faces tired looking from sleepless nights and too many tears shed. “Jacob,” his voice is shaking.  “Say goodbye to mommy.” He tries to keep his voice strong, to keep it from breaking all together. 

“No. She’ll wake up.” He tells him. 

“Jacob,” He tries to reason with him.

Pushing out of his father’s arms, he runs over to his mother. “Wake up!”

I stand in the center of my living room. The beeping so loud I feel as though it will cause my ears to bleed. Tears stream down her face as she is filled with pain, it’s too much, she can’t take it. She just wants to go back to sleep.

And then… the beeping stops.

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