Okay, this is super different that what I usually write but I just got inspired to write something sad and romantic. The format is really different too, I was just experimenting with different styles. Please tell me what you think!
P.S.: To those who have read From the Very Beginning I will have the chapter up by tomorrow or maybe even tonight if I can figure out how to finish the chapter.
So without further adieu.
You have stopped sleeping.
Really sleeping, not collapsing on a pile of old modems in the middle of your workshop or closing your eyes for a moment while you tinker away under one of your classic Model T cherry red Mustangs. No, that happens at least every other day, even if your dozing only lasts a few moments.
But actual, in a bed, REM inducing, sleep has alluded you for at least two months. You find it strange that the insomnia didn't start the night you got back from your hell in Afghanistan. The first few weeks you slept like a baby, or as well a man your age could be expected to sleep. But even during those early, peaceful nights you knew that the nightmares were bubbling just under the surface. You, however, stuck true to your nature and didn't give in without a fight. You fought the memories, the pain, the darkness, and the fear, tooth and nail. Eventually you knew that you would give in, that the dam would burst, and all the emotions from those three months that you so carefully pushed away during the day would come tumbling out as you slept.
And you feared that. More than anything else. Not because of the memories themselves or even the emotions that they inspired. Not because of the guilt or the sadness. Not even because of the pain that always seemed to flow through the hole in your chest every time you revisit your desert cave.
No, what you fear the most is the overwhelming sense of loneliness that you feel when you gasp awake, drenched in your own sweat and tears. It is the terrible sense of hopelessness that fills you to the brim, suffocating you and tearing out heart. That is what you fear.
The first night you have a nightmare you jerk and shake into consciousness. You brush the wet, limp hair out of your eyes and try to shake off the horrible memories; reminding yourself that it is over and you are safe in your own bed. When you finally are able to breathe normally again, you pad quietly to your bathroom and study your reflection in the mirror. In the wake of your dark nightly visions, you look far older than your years and you are reminded that you aren't a young man anymore. That your life is closer to ending than beginning. You wonder what you have to show for it besides a red and gold metal can and talking house. With these thoughts in mind you return to your bedroom. The suddenly enormous bed looms at you and you are reluctant to return to it. The sheets are now cold and smell salty, still moist with your fears.
You lay in the middle of the bed and spread out your arms as wide as possible. Your fingers don't even reach the sheeted cliffs of your mattress. You lay like this for what seems like hours, unable to sleep but unable to summon enough energy to get out of bed. You sit there and wonder what other people in the world are doing right now. You laugh at yourself, 'They are hopefully sleeping'. They are sleeping with their wives or husbands in their arms, their children only rooms away. They are sleeping in houses filled with girlfriends, boyfriends, roommates, friends, cousins, uncles, aunts, pets.
And you are sleeping alone. Completely alone.
You suddenly feel like you are incredibly small and the bed overwhelms you. You don't notice when you roll onto your side and curl up into a small ball.
That was the last night you slept in your bed. Because you are a fighter. If you weren't able to keep the nightmares away, then you would keep away from the nightmares. Simple and effective, even if slightly unrealistic.
This is why you are sitting half-asleep with bags the size of lemon wedges underneath your eyes trying desperately to not break anything when your head inevitably crashes onto the table before you. You try, so hard, to summon up the courage to pass out in your own bed.
You summon enough courage to go to the kitchen and raid the refrigerator. It's nearly midnight. You marvel in the silence that greets you when you reach the top of the stairs. Not a sound, you think that you maybe should have rethought the deserted location of you cliff-hanging mansion. The quiet has a new, disturbing feel that you want to wash away. Instead you go into your equally hushed kitchen.
You emerge minutes later with a nearly empty liter of Coke and an old carton of Chinese take-out. You start to return to your lonely workroom when you hear a sound. So tiny that for second you wonder if you had imagined it. It was a faint whisper of a soft snore.
You enter the living room and you are surprised to find your faithful assistant, passed out on the couch, pen still in hand and papers scattered all around her like loyal subject paying homage to their beautiful queen. You smile and know that you really need to get some sleep if you are starting to use personification and similes in your daily musings.
She looks ethereal in the half-light of the room, her body almost completely unmoving save the nearly imperceptible rhythm of her breathing. Then, without warning, she makes a small snoring sound, the one that had alerted you of her presence in the first place.
You make your way over to her and set down your midnight snack on the table. Now up close you can see the lines that are etched across her lovely face. You wonder if she has been having trouble sleeping too, but quickly dismiss the idea, knowing that she was probably just overworked and running herself ragged. Because of you.
You stare at a strand of hair that had fallen onto her face and gently, oh so gently, push it away. She mumbles a little but doesn't awaken. Your hand still tingles from the softness of her skin and hair. You want more, so much more. You want to wake her up and take her in your arms and hold onto her so tightly that you forget that you are two different people. You want curl up beside her and rest your head in the curve of her neck. You want to take her to your bedroom and spoon up to her and finally get some much needed sleep. You know that if she was with you, you could sleep for a century, happily drifting in her existence in your life. You know that you could forget the horrors of your capture and the guilt of your old life and the overbearing pressure of your new mission, you could forget all of it if she held on to you tight enough.
You so desperately want to kiss her lightly on the lips and see her eyes flutter awake, her face filled with sleepy confusion. You want to tell her that you love her and beg her to stay with you forever, promising her the moon.
But you don't. You can't. It is the nature of true love, and yes, you truly love her. It is the nature of true love to the put your beloved before your own needs. You know that by waking her and giving her his love you would equally be giving her a curse. You know that no matter what happens, eventually, you would hurt her. The only question is, to what magnitude? You can't give her your hurt, you could never.
So instead you allow yourself one last longing gaze at her and then you gather up your foraged goods and return to your metal sanctuary.
The next morning she finds you passed out on top of your computer, drooling all over the keyboard. You awake startled, scratching at the square marks left on your cheek.
The sadness is visible in her blue eyes and the longing is visible in your brown ones, both of you say nothing.