Buried underneath the covers, you were safe even though sleep continued to elude you. The chill of the morning was unable to pierce the walls of your blanket fortress. While the soft pitter-pattering of rain on your window would normally be able to lull you to dreamland, you were left to watch the rise and fall of the fabric.
Early daylight had danced its way across the room a millennia ago. No matter how deep you burrowed into your little nest, the light would seep through. So you tucked your head underneath your pillow and fought the urge to continuously check your phone. Watching time tick past would only make these growing frustrations and anxieties worse.
You remained curled up with your knees close to your chest, willing your hands to stop their shaking. All those exercises you had been taught in therapy seemed fruitless. Nothing could alleviate this numbness that had settled in your bones. Time continued to pass as you laid there, only daring to leave your bed’s warm embrace when your bladder was screaming in agony.
The spot where you laid never had to the time to cool. You were always sucked right back to it in record time like every episode before. Brain fog would cause the same thing every time. The days would seem to just blend into one another, a cycle of light and shadows that would chase each other around the ceiling. You would have no idea if you took your meds, what day it was, or even the last time you ate. Time would be nonexistent in your little blanketed world.
A soft vzzzzt came from outside your safe zone. Moving your hand slightly, you could just barely feel the vibrations of your phone. You paused as you tried to decide if you had enough energy to answer. It was most likely unimportant, another robocall about some silly matter. Sighing heavily, you drew your hand back to its previous position.
Silence fell over the room once more and you breathed a sigh of relief. You forced your eyes shut in hopes that you could finally sleep. Not more than a few moments passed before the quiet was broken yet again. The soft vzzzzt returned, requiring you to begrudgingly open your eyes. You hissed as you slowly rolled over, just enough to reach over and drag your phone under the covers with you.
You flipped your phone over as your best friend’s face filled up the screen. You know you should answer it, but you didn’t want to worry her. Ariel has enough going on without you dragging her into your shit. You quickly shot off one of those automated responses saying you’re busy and you’ll call back later before declining the call.
Carefully shoving your phone back out from under your blanket pile, you tried once more to adjust and get comfy. Finally, it seemed that the sleep you craved is upon you. You yawned before nestling your head deeper into your pillow and letting your eyes fall shut.
You woke up sometime later and noticed that the bedroom is almost completely dark. You dare to glance at your phone and it’s only 6 pm. Stiff limbs quickly made themselves known as you tried to stretch. They crack and pop as you finally moved them, each crying out desperately for motion.
Slowly you sit up and allow yourself to slip out from your burrito. Every movement feels as if you’re wading through an endless pool of molasses. You rise to feet carefully and your knees buckle as they wake up to support you. Ambling towards the kitchen, you tried to scrounge up the desire for anything other than a few mints.
Your pickings are rather slim. Even then everything would take longer than you know you have the energy to stand for. Huffing as you grabbed handful of mints before you make your back to bed. You crawled back into bed, grabbing your laptop in hopes you can find someway to pass the next round of sleepless.
Popping a mint in your mouth and scrolling through the various entertainment options, you happened across a show you know very well. Another time you might have smiled at your luck. Of course it recommends something that he was in. Rolling over to grab your phone, you unlock it to check what time it is over there.
2 am the clock answered. You swallowed the lump in your throat, remembering what he said last time.
“I don’t care what time it is. If you need me, call. I’d do anything for you. “
You glance at the clock once more and you lose your nerve.
“He’s halfway across the world right now and under enough stress. You’ll talk to him again when Friday comes around” you rationalize internally, “That’s more than 3 days away. You’ll be back to your usual by then. You always are.”
You shake your head and push the phone off the bed. Tucking an arm under your head and curling your knees to your chest, placing your laptop on top of them. You settle in with Forensic Files, hoping that Peter Thomas’s voice will eventually get you more sleep.
Sleep doesn’t come. You’ve lost count of how many episodes of Forensic Files that you’ve watched. All of them have blurred together. Once again the sun’s rays slowly painted your room in an array of reds, oranges, and finally yellows. Two more rounds of soft vzzzzt that go unanswered cause you to retreat back under the blankets once more.
For how long you remain there is unknown. All you known is that you’re forced to get up by your throbbing bladder. Then you’re back in your bed, curled up around a pillow and begging for sleep to come. Your body is sore, your mind is all fogged up, and by the time you do feel sleepy, the sun must be high in the sky.
Here’s to another day of waking up after the sun has set. Daylight Savings Time is a bitch. There’s no use in checking your phone. You stretched and tried to sum up the strength to move your feet, knowing you need to at least try to make your way to the kitchen. Each step causes a shooting pain in your underused appendages.
Leaning against the counter, you grabbed a package of Cup Ramen from the cabinet. Not the healthiest choice, but the one that will take the shortest amount of time to cook. Adding the water and setting it in the microwave is the easiest part; having the strength to wait the 3 minutes to cook is the hardest.
Anxiety seeps in as you watched the timer go down. Tapping your fingers against your thigh, you tried to pass the time without throwing yourself into an anxiety attack. Finally, the microwave beeps and you let out a breath you hadn’t realized you’d been holding. You opened the microwave and quickly stirred the contents of the cup together.
You make the trip back to the bed that’s been calling your name since you left. Although you’re not hungry, you have to try to eat. You ate earlier right?….Your stomach hadn’t give any indication of hunger. You ate as much as you could stomach before leaving the unfinished meal beside your bed.
Grabbing your laptop, you scrolled through for something, anything to distract you. In a moment of clarity, you remembered that last time he mentioned a nature documentary which he said you should watch. You found it easily and turned it on, curling your body around your laptop. In your bones, the numbness reared it’s ugly head once more.
The animals in documentary didn’t cause you to laugh at their antics like they usually would. You had to pause it. You felt like you were drowning in this void. What once might have been enough to drag you out of the darkness, no longer could do so. You had been doing so well; going to your appointments and working on coping with your trauma only for the empty pit to gobble you up once more.
Screwing your eyes shut as you take in one shaky breath after the other. Whatever strength that was left in your tired limbs, you willed to help get you through. You needed to be fine, he needed you to be fine. Every inch of you shook with hurt and sorrow as sleep waded in and out of your mind. It took forever to succumb.
A gentle chime woke you from your fitful sleep. You laid underneath your mountain of blankets and watched the gentle rise and fall that came with every breath you took. You blinked a few times as you attempted to stretch out your body. The chime had stopped by the time you were finally able to peak your head from where it was tangled in your cocoon.
The noise had emanated from your laptop. You inwardly curses yourself because you only know what that means. You left yourself logged into Skype and you reached a hand over to check who called. However, as soon as you did, the chime started up again, his name flashed on your screen.
A sob threatened to break loose from your lips. It couldn’t have been Friday already. Skype dates only happened on Friday and Saturdays, that was your routine. You glanced around your room and contemplated slamming your laptop closed. Based on the colors of the sun that painted your bedroom’s walls, it was early, much too early for his call.
Deep down you knew he would keep calling until you responded and as much as it pained you to do so, you had to give into him. You moved the cursor to hover over the accept button. With a deep breath, you clicked accept. You waited for the swoosh that always came before his face filled the screen.
You couldn’t face him like this. He didn’t deserve this. Your stomach was already upset, it didn’t need your anxiety making it worse. Burying your face in your hands, you heard the tell-tale noise that the call connected.
“Darling, there you are,” he exclaimed.
You had no choice but to peek between your fingers to see his smiling face. He looked so happy and full of light. You couldn’t dare to bring him down from his high. He was worthy of so much more, someone who wasn’t empty. Surely he could see that.
“As much as I’d love to talk your lovely hands, I’d rather talk to that face of yours.”
“Hen-“ Your voice cracked from not being used in so long.
“Please,” He begged.
Every inch of your body quaked, the inevitable was here. He would see you, see how broken and lost you were, and wouldn’t be able to take it. The expiration date for your time together was today.
“Please, sweetheart.” He tried again, his voice no louder than a whisper.
You shook your head in silent agreement to his plea. Trembling, your hands pealed away from your face and finally you saw your boyfriend’s face fully. Messy curls were strewn across his forehead and there was an inkling of stubble making an appearance on his face. His eyes were bright and warm as always. You could just barely make out the brown amongst the blue at the top of his left eye.
“There you are,” Henry murmured, his voice dropping an octave.
“Shhhh… I know it’s not Friday but I wanted to see you. Ariel was worried. I was worried.”
“I’m so sorry-” You started as you felt tears beginning to form in the corners of your eyes.
“There’s nothing to be sorry about, love. I’m happy to see your face. I would ask how you are, but I think I know. Have you been taking your meds?”
“I don’t remember. All I know my stomach is a bit upset,” you whispered as the first hot tears rolled down your cheeks.
“I’d reckon it’s been a few days then,” Henry sighed, ”Do you think could get up and make some green tea? That’s always helped in the past.”
You groaned, flopping backwards onto your bed. A few moments pass by in silence as you weighed your options.
“I can try.”
“That’s all I’m asking for, sweetheart,” admitted the blue eyed man,” How about you bring me with you?”
You nodded slowly. Henry was always good at reading you. It seemed that regardless of the distance between the two of you and the blurriness of the camera, his skill hadn’t waned. He knew you so well and right now you were thankful for that. There was so much you couldn’t say right now, you didn’t have the energy nor the clarity to do so.
Stretching your arms above your head, you winced at the stiffness in them. You had to do this, you had to fight that little voice in your head. You carefully moved yourself to the edge the bed. Taking a much needed deep breath, you forced your aching body to sit up. Gently, after a few moments, you maneuvered yourself to stand on your feet.
You glanced over at your computer screen and saw nothing but pride and encouragement in his blue eyes. It gave you the required push to grab your laptop and make your way towards the kitchen, tired body be damned. Normally, you feel safe and content in the silence with him. The freezing emptiness that had made it’s home amongst your bones and mortal flesh flourished in it.
“How’s filming going?” You croaked.
Henry was quick to fill the crushing silence “Remember that scene I mentioned to you last time…” His hearty timbre warming the outermost parts of your mind. Puttering around the kitchen, you put the kettle on and grabbed your favorite mug while listening. He could be speaking about blue-footed boobies and you would still be rapt.
Sooner than you would of liked, the kettle sung it’s annoying little tune. Carefully, you snatched it off the stove and poured into the waiting mug. You dropped the teabag in and leaned up against the counter. Glancing over at the computer, you saw Henry watching you with a smile on his face.
“Good job, sweetheart,” Henry beamed.
You tried to blink away the tears that remained in your eyes. “I boiled water. Nothing too special about that.”
“You know what I mean.”
Shakily setting the down the mug, you forced yourself to take some deep breaths, but it does nothing to stop the onslaught of tears. They blazed in hot trails down your cheeks.
“My brain doesn’t work, Hen. The fog sets in and it’s like I can’t do the simplest tasks. I can’t even just go through the motions,” You sobbed
“Oh, darling,” his voice barely a whisper and your gaze remained on the floor, arms wrapped around your quaking form.
“Nothing’s working…. I’m so tired of feeling like this. I don’t even feel alive anymore. Just empty and cold all the time.”
Silence fell over the two of you once again; only being pierced by your shuddering breaths as you tried regain control. It took a few moments to calm yourself. You brushed away the remaining tears and finally glance up at him.
“I’m sorry,” You murmured.
“Sweetheart, you don’t need to apologize. I know you’re struggling. I’m worried about you being all alone right now with everything that’s going on,” Henry admitted,” How about you ask Ariel to come stay with you? Just until I finish filming.”
“I…I can do that.”
“I want you to know you don’t have to stick to our schedule. I know you like the consistency it brings, but I don’t mind if you call other times, love. I’d be happy to hear your voice more often.”
Nodding your head, you grabbed your abandoned tea and took a sip. “I love you, Henry.”
“I love you too. We’re in this together, us against the problem.”
Somehow his words seemed to pierce at the remaining chill in your body. He was exactly what you needed, your lighthouse in the storm. No matter how far apart you may be, you’ll always find your way back to his loving embrace.