I look out the window and see the sky, and I’m reminded of outer space. The stars, absent from the blackened abyss, call out silently as my deaf ears strain to listen. How could it be, that I’d forgotten of the universe around me? That the beam of light that struck my eyes was something more than a glass illusion hanging delicately from my concrete box like a purposeless limb dangling from a dead tree. I’m reminded of all the things it would seem my mind would rather forget, those obvious truths that stare so violently into my eyes while my vision ever so purposefully blurs so as to deflect what will hit them regardless. I’m aware of my heartbeat, and the blood—all that blood—flowing in circles beneath my skin as I latch to each breath and hope to survive to the next. I concentrate harder, and I swear I can feel my very compositional molecules decomposing within me; the crick crack of my bones causing my limbs to creak and groan with the effort of remaining whole, despite the constant pressure I assert on them. Coiled, shadowy hands find the taste of my body simply divine as they feed off of me, jerking me down when I attempt to fly and holding me to the earth when I acquiesce to their pull, stretching out, stretching thin to the ground as my physical self tries to reconvert to its original state while my soul says not yet, not yet, keeping me together, holding my body like the hand that clutches at shattered glass in the attempt to erase the damage done. I’m feeling too much, I can’t take it—how have I not imploded? Tears streak down my face, uncalled, unwanted, but there all the same, but those hands that tie me down won’t allow me to wipe away their traces; the wetness on my skin makes me uncomfortable, it makes me tired—I want to sleep. But my tears, like lone soldiers trekking home, find their way to the edge of their world—my face—and free fall, and are met with the good earth, and strangely I feel relieved, like a part of me was able to go home, even though the rest must stay, just a little bit longer. Just a little bit longer. I look to the sky and I wonder at my own ability to shroud my consciousness; ignore that calling into the darkness that whispers ever so softly into my ear as I turn my head, that knowledge that this must end, and soon. I want it. But I’m afraid. My fingers convolve at that word, and, stung like the bitter end of a whip, my mind recoils before lashing back, stomping down at the feeling as I fight for control again. I can’t fear I can’t fear I can’t fear it is natural. What is? Fear? Or darkness. Both call to me and this time my ears are not sewn shut, it’s far too late for that now. I breathe in and I can feel them invading my black body, shifting and turning here and there as they become comfortable inhabitants in me. My mouth opens in a silent moan and I can feel more than see that serpent rise from my mouth, black as night as it lashes itself out of me, choking me in its endeavor to drag the words so hated by my unwilling tongue: I fear. It tumbles messily out of my mouth and the serpent, displeased, lashes again, making me repeat myself over and over and over I am afraid I am afraid, and, finally someone help. I shut my mouth and close my eyes as I lay just above the earth and wait for it to swallow me whole. This word, help, is forbidden in the realm of the free. With freedom comes payment. Payment is loneliness. To ask to be saved from it is to beg for time in Hell, complete with disgust, betrayal, fear, and, most of all, hurt. It hurts. A pain like no other, it is so remarkable it leaves me feeling like a million microscopic holes had been punctured into my body; it looks alright but I will always know they’re there, I will always know there’s no helping me. Fuck that. Fuck the serpent that lies in wait on the tip of my tongue, that weakness that is fear that forces me to call out despite my knowledge of the fact that no one will come to my rescue. My soul, so tired, shakes in its confines and asks me to be still. I am. Though sleep won’t help my weariness, I fall into that grey pit regardless, hoping to be whisked away to a universe entirely my own, where hurt, loneliness, and fear are only things of deeper, darker nightmares.