ALL IN HER HEAD
She lies on a coarse cloud of blankets and tension. This should be where she sleeps, where she curls up with fantastic dreams of journeys to outlandish places with movie stars or forgotten friends from grade school. Instead, this is where her hand stays clenched around the whistle under her pillow; where she can hear every creak, feel every movement of air, where she can see in the dark.
How many nights has it been like this now? How many months of news reports and neighborhood rumors?
Days move like dreams to her. Co-workers talking to each other sound like ocean waves crashing against fan blades, and she can no longer understand the smallest droplets that fly out. She hears her name sometimes, clear as sunbeams, but no one’s there. Her head is weightless, moving without her realizing it. Her eyes see everything but only focus on the numbers on clocks; but even those have stopped making sense.
It’s 9:30 a.m., she blinks, now it’s 4:45p.m., time to go home, back to the apartment, the wood floors, the squeaking doors, all of the locks.
Once she’s checked and double checked and triple checked the locks on the front door and the back door to the deck, she goes to her bedroom and pushes the trunk, heavy with things she can’t remember, in front of her bedroom door. Tonight though, tonight, she doesn’t check under her bed, in her closet, under the desk. Monsters can hide under desks, you know. She lies on her side clenching that whistle and hears the strange knocking her fridge sometimes makes, seemingly only at night. And then she hears the creaking.
Her bones become liquid encased in electric skin. Her eyes scan the darkness, catching reflections bouncing off the streetlight outside the window in the library. Branches on the trees hitting that window, she thinks, that must be it, has to be it. She repeats it like a mantra, branches on the window branches on the window, until she hears the creaking again, slow and close and louder than the thoughts in her head.
Her eyes squeeze shut to the sound and the weight she feels at the foot of her bed and tries to wake up.
***Hillary Umland is a flash fiction/short story writer and freelance editor living and working in Nebraska. She has been published in the July/August 2015 of Unbroken Journal. You can find out more about her endo-woes on howtodoonething.wordpress.com and find her on Twitter @hillaryumlaut. ***