There were so many things I didn’t know that autumn. Everything that I had planned to do the following year was in jeopardy. University, my gallery show, the yearly trip to Scotland I always take with my family at Christmas. It was as if I was standing in front of a moving train with no way to stop it, or even notice it was coming closer. Once it hit, everything would shatter apart.
For weeks I had been having dreams about babies. I would fall asleep, and every scene would be invaded by them. There were babies inside of my dryer, inside of my shower, on my counter, my bed, my coffee table, and I never knew where they had come from, only that they were mine. I would pick them up and carry them everywhere I went. The only problem was, when I arrived at my destination, I would find the baby was missing, and I didn’t know where I was.
My alarm went off that morning as usual.
Beep, beep, beep.
I threw my hand on top of it and my fingers wiggled aimlessly as I tried to find the buttons on the side. I found one and pressed it. The alarm turned off and I yanked my hand back and turned over. I’d been sleeping on my front and my neck was sore. So, I rubbed my neck with one hand and I reached up and grabbed my phone with the other. I checked the time.
I really hate mornings, and I wasn’t feeling particularly well that day, so I sighed and turned off my phone screen. I let the phone and my hand fall to my chest. My stomach was churning. By that point, I had been waking up depressed for a few months already, so I attributed it to my mental health. Depression always brought anxiety, and anxiety always brought stomach aches, I thought. So I sat up and looked around the room. It was still dark. I laid back down.
My phone went off again, but it wasn’t the beep of my alarm, it was the chime of a text message. I tossed the phone to the side and turned over, then I pulled my covers up around my ears. There were only a few people the text could be from, especially that early, and I didn’t want to hear from any of them.
At some point, I fell back asleep. Despite all my dreams being flooded with cute little babies — imagine, if you will, a tidal wave of babies crashing in through your front door — many of them had been nightmares. Not traditional nightmares, like the ones filled with ghosts and clowns you can never outrun. The ghost in my dreams had only taken one form, my ex-boyfriend. Maybe you’ve been in a relationship that haunted you in your sleep, and you can understand how I felt. It was like a wound being torn open — pulled apart after it had only just begun to heal, only to flood with blood that bubbled up from inside as the raw flesh was exposed again. It’s difficult waking up after a dream like that.
That morning I didn’t get out of bed until 10:30 a.m. I might have felt guilty about it, but I didn’t have the energy. I fell asleep, and when I opened my eyes it had simply been 10:30. I must have needed the rest, I wasn’t going to apologize for getting it. Whoever had texted me could wait. It was Sunday, besides. And who could be expected to answer a text at 7 a.m. on a Sunday?
I hauled my ass up and put my feet on the floor. I had never felt so heavy. Each one of my limbs was like a brick and to pull them along was a genuine strain. I felt like an octopus attempting to move its tentacles while wearing a cement overcoat. I dragged myself up off the mattress and grabbed my phone as I went. As I stumbled into the hallway of my apartment, I looked at my notifications. When I saw his name, my heart shriveled up and trembled behind my ribcage. Why the fuck was he texting me this early in the morning? He hadn’t texted me for six weeks, and now there was his name sitting there on my phone screen as if he’d never stopped replying. It’s not easy to describe the kind of rage you feel when you’re too tired to feel anything. It was as if a wave of empty exhaustion crashed over me, and I swiped the notification away with it. As the wave passed, I had a lingering feeling of anger that he would contact me. But as the wave drained away, so too did my emotions.
I continued with my day after that. I managed to shower, and even eat breakfast. When I was done and dressed, I realized it probably wasn’t normal that I couldn’t stop feeling sick. Despite the dissociation I was experiencing that morning, I could still feel the nausea that had been clinging to me like a curse. Seeing a doctor is one of my least favourite things in life, but that day I had a feeling I should go to a clinic. I had gotten dressed in a pair of black flares and a loose-fitting black t-shirt. When I looked outside it was raining, so I added a pair of black platform boots, a black trench-coat, and a wide-brimmed black wool hat. Whenever I feel like death, I enjoy dressing in black as if I am attending my own funeral.
When I stepped outside, the rain fell heavily around me. I stood on the front stoop of my apartment building and stared up at the dark grey sky. The sound of the rain encouraged me to breathe deeply, and the fresh air filled my lungs, cool and wet. The scent of petrichor relaxed my body, and the muscles in my shoulders, my neck, and even my face all began to loosen. I stood in the rain for almost 5 minutes just enjoying the sensation of rain falling on my body. Every time I filled my lungs with clean air, blessed by rain, I became a little more aware of myself. A soft feeling of contentment came over me, and I didn’t want to leave the moment behind. Then I remembered where I was going. I knew I should see a doctor, and so eventually I left.
Story fanatic. Published in the Camosun College literary journal Beside the Point. Former Senior Staff Writer at The Martlet. Current and future freelance writer.