this time the black beast attacked without warning. i hadn’t seen it in a while. like a monster hiding in the shadows until lights are turned off, it waited patiently for me to climb the stairs to my bed, to get under the covers and feel warm and cozy inside and out. it was still quiet when i started to drift off into some kind of half sleep. the beast chose the perfect moment to attack. the rare and perfect moment when
in that state of half consciousness
i realize that sleep is just a breath away. would be just a breath away. if the beast had not decided to jump out right then. a beast without a face, without a name, without a body. a heavy wave of nothingness, drowning out sound and sight like a curtain of thick, black velvet. the beast makes me cry for a reason and without reason. the beast makes me believe there is no reason, and that no reason is just as good a reason as any reason at all. the beast does not need a reason, but it gladly takes any hint i leave to turn a reason into nothingness & the nothingness into its very own reason. the beast makes me want to scream and flee and crawl to safety, but there is no voice for screaming, no power for crawling. there is no safety, not as long as there are tears. i’ve known the beast for a long time, and i wish i had not, but then it is good, because i know: it will leave. it always did. it will this time. after taking it’s own time, time that cannot be measured in minutes or hours. not important. it will leave. it always did. it will leave.
and finally it does. there is no sleep after the beast is gone. there never is. not out of fear. the beast does not attack twice in one night. there is no fear. the beast takes the sleep back into nothingness, leaving me empty and awake. nothing to do but breathe. breathe myself back into my own life, into reality. this takes a while. a night that lasts 100 years. bird songs outside and the first touch of light. cars and workers, the sounds of a morning street, and this is all good. because it is real.
i venture out of my breathing chamber to turn off the alarm & open the window. then i climb back under my blanket & breathe some more. while the city awakes. while the sun tries in vain to reach through the clouds.
while the train leaves the station. without me.