Estimated reading time — 4 minutes
It started with the usual. Waking up in different places on smaller scales. Fall asleep on the couch, wake up in my bed.
“Oh Randy, I was the same way at your age,” My mother used to say, with smiles and turn-aways that marked the end of discussion.
Sometimes I thought it was my parents, but to what motivation would they do this? When I’m soundly in my bed, pick me up and lay me gently on the kitchen floor? No. This was me. It was around when I was sixteen that they started to see it.
My older sister Anne, eighteen at the time, would be dozing by the TV when I’d saunter in and so very purposely sit beside her. Sometimes she thought I was awake, only to have me not recall it the next day.
Then the talking started. I’d walk into her room one late summer night, while she’s up on her computer and stare blankly at her. She’d question me, and I’d answer yes to every question. Open-ended and all.
“Ran’, you okay?”
“What’s going on?”
Sometimes she’d find me in places, usually asleep. On several occasions her walk-in closet. She’d yell at me and throw me out saying,
“Even with your fucking narcolepsy or whatever, that’s private!” She was a very reserved person, and I always respected that in my waking life, even after she moved out. But it was all different asleep. Nothing was relevant, and none of it mattered.
I’d tried everything. For a while I’d slept in a sleeping bag, zipped to the neck, with mittens. It never really worked. And I was beginning to wake up in stranger and stranger places. Granted, I never went too far from home, but it was becoming a regular thing that I’d wake up outside. Forests, streets. I was sleepless for days at a time and it made me delusional, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to be normal.
My best friend, Daryn was very supportive, always calming me down when I was so sleep deprived I felt like my mind would implode. He’d coax me to sleep and promise to watch me, and for the most part, he did. Sometimes I’d wake up to little notes from him. Little affirmations, like,
“Everything will be okay- Daryn.”
I’d find these notes in the cracks and rifts of my home, folded neatly and creased tight. Telling me it’s okay.
Daryn and I didn’t always get along, though. Sometimes we’d fight, and he’d leave. The guy had a lot of problems, maybe some form of manic depression. That’s when I’d find the malicious notes. The notes that told me to “fuck off” and “get over myself,” Which eventually progressed into darker territory. I’d find them around and it was as if they’d interact with me.
“Nobody loves you, all you do is destroy- Daryn.”
“But I try so hard to be good!” I’d think to myself.
“And every time you try, you fail.- Daryn”
“I’m so sorry…” I’d whisper faintly.
“Kill yourself. -Daryn.”
I should’ve just stopped hanging out with him, but he was all I had, then he’d leave me cold. I’d wake up in the dirt under cold sweat, with blood on my hands that I stole from myself in my slumber.
“This is why you’re worthless – Daryn.”
Annie was leaving soon. Going off to college. Over the course of a week her room faded to emptiness as she took all her things to her dorm, and then only she was left. She said she’d be out in a week. It’d been months since I’d gotten a note from Daryn. He hadn’t been over to supply them.
I was happy. Alone, but happy. He couldn’t bother me anymore.
And the night before Annie left, I went to sleep happy. I dreamt of beautiful things. Waterfalls and meadows, places where everything was in its right place.
That time I woke up midday. No cars in the driveway, nothing too unusual, but my room was distraught. Dents in my wardrobe and a door off its hinges. Must’ve been a crazy night, but at least I was still in my bed.
I went down the hall to check if Annie was still there, she never said when she was leaving. Her room was empty as usual, but something was off this time. Her closet was open a crack. She never left her closet open, not even the slightest bit. It was her private zone, her sanctuary.
That’s when I saw the little drops on the floor. Smeared like crimson pastels, like someone had gone over to spread them. I followed them to the closet. looking down the whole way. I reached the door and wrapped my fingers around the edge. Slowly pushing forward.
And there she was.
Mangled and beaten. The veins in her neck torn out. The carpet was no longer off-white and dry, but moist and crimson. It was as if she were mauled by an animal.
And I saw it.
A little note on her chest, folded with the care and precision Daryn had always prided himself on.
But the signature was different.
And then it hit me, clear as day. Like waves of clarity but still somehow topped with disbelief.
It wasn’t Daryn. It was never Daryn. I squeezed my eyes shut as I declared it to myself.
I opened my lids as I read the note one last time, glazed eyes and trembling fingers.
“Everything will be okay.” – Randy
Credit To: Anna Elise Groves