The walls drip with the blood of the damned. The dark liquid boils with all the hate of hell. Burning everything it touches. I try to scamper away from it but I cannot move. I can feel it crawling closer. Feel her reaching for me. Her clawed hand stretching for me, raking her talons down my legs. Shredding my flesh from my bone. The pain is insufferable, and I try to fight her off but every time I swing my arm to hit her away, there is nothing there. But I know she’s there. I can feel her. She is as real as the terror in my heart and the adrenaline in my veins. The heat is unbearable. From somewhere unseen a fire rages, ruled by the pain and loathing of humanity. I curl up in a protective ball, accepting defeat. The blood reaches the wounds on my feet and I throw my head back in a blood curdling scream as all the agony of the world enters my limp frame. I wake in my scream, my body convulses and I vomit on my floor.
I fell asleep again. How could I let this happen? I wrap my arms around my knees and wait for the shivers to subside before I do anything, my skin is still alight with heat, and I open the window to cool down, and to air out my room. The mop and bucket had recently been moved to my closet, so I could use them to clean the remnants of my regurgitated dinner from the floor. The smell clings to my nostrils, but I have gotten used to it. I rinse the bucket and mop it out in my bathroom and put it back in my closet. My clock reads 4:47, I still have two hours until everyone gets up. I can’t get into bed and risk falling back asleep. Retreating into my bathroom, I turn on the bath tap and wash out my mouth out in the sink. The reflection in the mirror is not one that I recognise, it’s sunken, the eyes held dark rings around them, the normally tan skin is pale and slick with sweat. The usually full lips are shrivelled from dehydration. The wild dark hair was dull and matted. The vomiting and lack of sleep has taken its toll. I turned the tap off and step in. The cold water feels good on my skin, helping to calm me. I relax my body, sinking into the water, and put my head back. After a while I stretch out my limbs, trying to shake out the lack of sleep. They groan in response, but eventually submit to my commands. I have to clean the death-like smell off me, I grab my scrubbing brush and soap, starting at my feet, and working my way up to my shoulders. The scratchy sensation is comforting to me now – It’s refreshing. The soap smells like lemongrass and tea tree which clears my nose and my mind. With the stench of vomit and sweat off me, I feel much better like I had scrubbed the dream from my skin . My hair is difficult, as it always is. I douse it in shampoo until it smelled like jasmine, then wrench a comb through it with an expensive amount of conditioner.
I don’t want to get out of the bath, I don’t want to face school, I don’t want to face my parents. They always knew when I had the dream. Of course we went to the doctors about it. After the first week we noticed something was wrong, and they prescribed all kinds of sleeping pills. But they didn’t work, they just trapped me I the dream. After a while they just said it was some kind of PTSD like condition, and sent me to a shrink. It rapidly became clear she didn’t know what was wrong with me either. Eventually we just gave up. Now I suffer from it through every day. I’ve gotten lucky before, and managed to not fall asleep during the night. But every time I sleep, I have the dream.
Stepping out of the bath, I ruffle my hair with my towel, then wrap it around me. Time to make myself look normal. I drop my towel and pad over to my make up table. I often get a lot of stick for all the makeup I wear. But to me it was a art, it was beautiful. I have been wearing makeup since I was 11 years old. Of course, I sucked at it then, and I cringe at old photos of me, with messy hot pink lipstick, and wild glittery eyeshadow. I had perfected my skills since then, but now I used it as a way of covering my exhausted face. I sit down at the small bench in front of my make up desk and vanity mirror and comb my thick eyebrows into place, holding them there with gel. I have to mix two foundations to match my face properly, or what shade my face used to be. I had gotten pretty pale these days. I prime, conceal, cream, powder, contour, shade, line, and fill. Pausing, I sit back and took in my reflection. I had always considered myself at least somewhat pretty. Especially when my winged liner looked this good. Despite myself I couldn’t help but smile.
My clock read 6:37. I get up and stretch towards my ceiling, taking a moment to survey my room. It was quite clean for a teenager’s, there’s nothing on the floor. A single bed with sky blue sheets, a clothes basket near the door that was empty right now, a shelf full of mystery and fantasy books, a small couch covered with little throw pillows, a makeup table, and desk with a lamp, wooden floor, white walls covered with my various abstract drawings sloppily tapped to the wall. Swaying from side to side, I make my way over to my walk In wardrobe. It contains mostly jeans and t-shirts; I was never really a fashionista, never very interested in clothes. The jeans I choose are blue with small rips. While I jump around and struggle into them I remember what my mum always said about me being lucky to take after her, with my thick Latina thighs and round ass. But at times like this I wasn’t so sure. I pull on my shirt, and my converses. 7:20, my mum will be cooking breakfast right about now. The wood under my feet creaks slightly as I scuffle along the hall and down the stairs. My mum was bent over the oven, starting a pot of something.
“Buenos Dias Mama” It came out more deflated than I wanted, and I knew right away that I had given myself up. She looks up from her stove.
“Hai, mi hija, did you sleep at all?” Her voice is sorrowful, but not surprised. Everyone knows I wasn’t sleeping. It isn’t a big secret.
“A bit” I mutter weakly. Even trying for a smile to try and ease her worrying. But it’s weak and unconvincing. It makes me worry for her, this has taken as much a toll on my family as it has on me. I was saved from my mum’s heartrending gaze by my little sibling. They ran up and wrap their arms around my leg and bury their face in my shirt.
“Hola Hermano” I sigh, ruffling their long brown hair, which strongly resembled mine and mum’s.
“Hai, porfavor. Tie up your hair before it gets knotty” Mum scolds, not wanting the challenge of taming their mane again. They run off giggling, and come back with a scrunchy. My dad waltzes into the kitchen leisurely, dressed for work, in his pyjamas. He’s a mystery novel writer, and works from home. Mum scolds him for being late for breakfast.
“lo siento mi amor” He purrs, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her in for a kiss. I don’t have the energy I once had to remark on the grossly romantic display. So I let them be, and allow myself to collapse on a stool at the breakfast bench. Mum had laid out breakfast there, and I dig in to my plate, hungry after ejecting last night’s dinner onto my floor this morning. Dad and his English stomach couldn’t handle mum’s Latina cooking, so we usually had pancakes for breakfast.
I take my time getting to school, because I had P.E. first, and I was not in the mood to run laps. Which sucks, I used to be quite good at basketball. But sleep deprivation and sport don’t mix. I get into my cheap little car and drive around the back of the school to avoid prying eyes. My school is quite small, and we only have one court for P.E., so I knew where to find anyone. I don’t bother changing into more athletic clothing, instead I just sit down by the edge of the court and get out my sketch pad. Coach knows about my situation, so he doesn’t bother me – while he is usually hot headed, he is compassionate as well. My blank page stares at me. I hold my favourite pencil in my hand. I have always drawn not what I see, and how it feels to me. I would draw the black and white swans at the park as daemons and angels, and the water as a parallel universe, and the trees as tired old souls. I would look at the scene before me and let my imagination run into it, filling the cracks. I take the simple frames of the individual people in my class. Izzy, Christian girl, very pretty and polite. I draw her as an angel. Ethan, quiet boy, loves anime. I draw him as a shadow. Coach, loud man, large personality. I draw him as a volcano. I draw their gladiator arena, and battle amor. A simple game of capture the flag becomes so much more. The bell rings, and I crumple the paper up, and throw it in the bin on my way to history. My teacher is ramping on in her South African accent about trade in the Ming Dynasty. It’s not that I didn’t like history, it’s just that it was boring, and it was hard to focus while getting no sleep. I’m just kind of staring out the window when the principal’s secretary comes in and hands the teacher a piece of paper. She takes in from his had, and pauses for a second to read it. Then glances out the door, past were any of us can see.
“We have a new student joining our class. Her name is Kristy” Her voice is warm and excited. It’s a sharp contrast to the utter despair that had come to blanket my life, and I find myself repulsed. However, what walks through that door is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Her skin is deep shining ebony, her hair a simmering black halo around her head, her eyes deep endless pools of gleaming brown, her eyebrows and eyelashes thick, and well groomed, her full protruding lips a deep shade of red, her cheekbones high, sharp and slanted, giving her a sophisticated look. She’s tall, thin, willowy. She’s wearing a pale yellow, flowy, knee length summer dress, dotted with bright pink flowers, with a light white vest. She resembles a spring nymph. The fabric swishing around her knees is mesmerising. She truly was an angel. She walks in on powder pink ballet flats and turns on her heel to face us. I’m sure my mouth is hanging open, as she pulls back her face in the most amazing smile, her teeth sparkling with the purest white, and her cheeks dimpled. Her celestial gaze sweeps over the class, then comes to rest on me. Our eyes lock and I feel Thor set my spine on fire as an army of enraged butterflies attack my stomach. Her smile settles into a slight smirk. She nods at the teacher, and glides down the aisles of desks, her arms swaying by her sides. She comes to rest at the desk next to mine and adroitly sits in the chair, we never take our eyes off each other. I am fully aware that I’m staring, and probably drooling, but I can’t help it. I have always like girls, but I have never seen a girl quite like her.