Sweaty hands clench the cotton sheets in tight fists, as she closes her eyes against the glaring sunrise. The blackness of her eyelids are speared with amber as she tries to forget the nightmares that haunt her.
Easing her aching body out of bed, her bare feet hit the wooden slats. The iciness is a welcome relief from her fiery dreams. She hobbles to the bathroom, shaking off the last vestiges of the nightmares.
She twirls the pills in her hands. The sunlight glints off the top of their silver coating, the fractured splinters of crystalline colours dance across her mirror.
She stares at the face before her, wondering if anyone else sees what she does. Her luminous emerald eyes are now tired and dull. Her sparkling golden hair now falling out in clumps, but is hidden underneath an awful khaki bandanna. Her once plump figure, something she was never entirely happy with, has whittled away into little more than skin and bones.
Her skin glows faintly yellow and her eyes are ringed in red. She has not slept properly in months and the exhaustion is plain for all to see.
She bends over the porcelain sink, one clammy hand gripping the edge while the other spins the pills. The three silver pills move in unison, dancing across her small palm. She places one between her thumb and forefinger.
They are here to help. She traces the smooth, curved tip of the pill.
They create the nightmares. She argues vehemently, forefinger planted firmly against the blunt base of the pill. The pills help her sleep but they give her nightmares. Her husband walking out on her and loss of her family all as vivid in her dreams as when it all happened. The curse of her illness was too high a price to pay. Her husband could not bear to look at her when her looks faded and hair began falling out. He thought it was too hard to see her fading away and left, taking her boys with him.
‘It isn’t fair to make them suffer with you.’ He venomously spat as he piled them into the car.
‘They are my children too.’ She cried, barely strong enough to raise her voice against the car engine.
‘They always will be. They will be here when you get better.’ He wanted to say if, like he knew she was destined to die. Her heart could not take it any longer and she walked away. How could she walk away from her children? She was doomed to relive that moment in her nightmares for eternity, constantly replaying different scenarios to equate the same outcome.
Other times, she is haunted by gruesome beasts with eyes as dead as Autumn leaves and teeth like rotted wood as soon as she closes her eyes for more than a few seconds.
They will make you better. Her final and most compelling argument. She knows that she needs these pills to function, but she always manages to delay the inevitable. After she takes the pills, she feels even weaker then ever. She needs to rest and that allows the memories to flood in, despite the barricade she has tried to build against them. The pills are the epitome of evil as they remind her of her failures in life. The irony is that they are the only things keeping her alive.
Her days begin and end like this. Always in constant war with herself, she spends at least an hour talking herself down from the edge.
The pills slip through her fingers and pool around the plug hole. She turns the cold water on and the pills are carried away in a foamy trail of blurred silver. She turns the tap off as one capsule balances precariously on the edge. One slight move and it’s gone.
The pill wobbles gently, the pressure too much. It clangs loudly on the way down the pipe, nothing masking its journey. She sighs heavily, and rests both hands against the sink.
‘One day at a time.’
As she walks away from the sink, one ivory capsule rests at the base of the rusted copper pipes, forgotten and alone.
Words by Jordyn Presley
Art by Rhianna Carr
Jordyn Presley: I am a Uni student hoping to become a writer and publisher after I finish my degree. I use writing as an escape from reality and love making people connect to my characters, whether they feel like old friends or close relatives. Writing is something that I’ve always loved and I cannot wait to make a career out of it.