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I Am Awoken

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I am awoken at 3:13 in the morning. My eyes bolt open. This has become a frequent occurrence over the last few months. It’s not every night, just often enough to make me wary of the fact that I am. I awake exhausted, yet the faint insomnia that resides in the back of my mind fuels me and energizes me into a hypnotic like state. My body is motionless; paralyzed from my slumber, yet my mind thrives and pleads me to stand, as my thoughts race around my head like a lightning bolt.

For a brief moment, I forget who I am, but soon recall. I grip the side of my bed to remember where I am. I run my hands down my legs to ensure I am in one piece. Strange, I know, but reoccurring night visions have led me into checking that I am still there. I am.

The speaker next to my bed sounds. It is a cry. A familiar cry. The cry of a baby. The cry of my baby. I have a baby. A new born. A Daughter. Eva. 12lb 6oz. Underweight. Medicinal treatment is required. 4 months, 20 days old. 4 months and 20 sleepless nights. The speaker keeps crying. The tired, soft voice next to me sounds

“Your turn.”

It is my fiancé. Yet to be married. Met her at a party. We connected. We fell in love. We plan to share a future together. Money is tight, but we survive. We can’t afford to marry just yet.

The cry sounds louder.

“Will you go and quiet her down? My head is pounding.”

I comply. I am awake. I sit up. I rub my eyes. I stand. I leave the comfort of my bed and exit the solitude of my room.

The corridor is dark, though I do not turn the lights on. I recollect the number of steps it takes to get from my room to my daughters. Six steps forward, second door to the right. The small bedroom. I open the door. The soft blue lights and gentle tings of a harp that play ‘Hush-a-bye Mountain’ from my Daughter’s mobile suspending 78 inches from the ceiling welcome me. I step over to my Daughter’s cot. She continues to cry. I pick her up. I lull her back to sleep with a series of “shhh” and hums. I rock her gently back and forth. She eventually silences. I kiss her head and place her back into her bed. I leave the room.

One step forward, four steps to the right, first door opposite the stairs. The bathroom. I close the door. I turn the light on. I am momentarily blinded, as I feel my eyes adjust to the piecing white of the ceiling light. I face the toilet and I urinate. I finish. I look into the mirror. I watch my pupils dilate as they continue to acclimatize to the brightness. I notice my figure has deterred.

There used to be a time where I possessed a somewhat athletic figure. 6 foot, 2 inches in height. Muscular. 14 stone exactly. I could run for miles, without getting tired. I thrived to keep fit. I was healthy. I haven’t been eating well recently. Haven’t eaten for a couple of weeks. I don’t feel the need to. I have now dropped to 10 stone and 7 pounds. The bones of my ribs stick out of my skin. My eyes have sunken and darkened due to lack of sleep. What became of my muscle has now disappeared as my body eats away at itself to survive. I am a shadow of my former self. I cannot bare to look at what stares back at me in the mirror. I splash my face with cold water. Its icy touch reminds me I am still here.

I hear a cry. A familiar cry. The cry of a baby. The cry of my baby. I have a baby. A new born. A Daughter. Eva. 10lb 4oz. Dangerously underweight. Medicinal treatment and medical persistence is necessary. 6 months, 5 days old. 6 months and 5 sleepless nights. She keeps crying. She wants her Father. The light, hoarse voice of my fiancé in the next room sounds.

“Check on Eva. My head is pounding.”

My fiancé’s health has also deterred. Her once exuberant eyes, so full of life and excitement, are now dulling. Her once soft, tender lips are now pale and cracked. Her once beautiful and loving face, which I once fell in love with, is now a mere gaunt expression. I try not to look at her. I check on the baby. One step forward, 11 shuffles of effort to the left, last door on the right. I open the door. The calming blue light of the mobile suspended 75 inches from the ceiling begins to flicker. The calming sound of the harp becomes distorted and fuzzes into an unrecognisable tune as the batteries slowly die. I pick her up. She is small, dainty and delicate. I do not hold her tight over fear she will be crushed. I lull her back to sleep with a series of tiresome “shhhh” and hums. I feel her rest her petite head against my boney shoulder. She is cold. I bring her to our room.

It is now 4:14 in the morning. There is nothing but silence in the house. I return to the bedroom, with my frail daughter in my arms. 14 shuffles of effort to the right, and into the last door before the stairs. I delicately place my sleeping daughter next to my ailing fiancé. I sit by the window and gaze at the sky. It is clear. There are no stars. The wilting light of a darkened moon attempts to illuminate the night silence. I breathe in the brisk night air and let it fill my lungs. I feel dazed and weary. I make my way back to the bed to join my sleeping fiancé and daughter. We huddle one another for warmth. My eyelids grow heavy. My will to stay awake weakens. I drift into a sleep.

I am awoken at 3:13 in the morning. My eyes bolt open. My body is motionless; paralyzed from my slumber, yet my mind thrives and pleads me to stand, as my thoughts race around my head like a lightning bolt. For a brief moment, I forget who I am, but soon recall. I grip the side of my bed to remember where I am. I run my hands down my legs to ensure I am in one piece. I am.

I sit up. I rub my eyes. I stand.

I do not hear the cry of my Daughter.

I do not hear the voice of my fiancé.

I leave my bedroom. The corridor is dark, though I do not turn the lights on. I recollect the number of steps it takes to get from my room to my Daughter’s. Six steps forward, second door to the right. The small bedroom. I open the door. The room is dark. The calming blue light of the mobile has burnt out. The hush-a-bye of the harp is now an infrequent, faint electrical cackle. The mobile lies unsuspended on the floor, 18 inches from the cot. I go to pick up my Daughter. Eva. 6lbs, 4oz. Severely underweight. Medicinal treatment and medical attention is desperately needed. She is delicate. I do not hold her tight over fear she will break. She is so small. So dainty. So cold. I bring her back to my room and place her in bed next to her Mother.

She says nothing. They lie next to each other. I watch. They are both so thin and pale. Skeletal.

I lean over and kiss the soft head of my Daughter. I kiss the dry lips of my fiancé and stroke her straw like hair that entangles between my fingers. I feel her wound. 3 inches from the back of her eye, 4 inches deep, 17 strikes. A cracked skull, a bludgeoned head. The icy touch of a woman’s blood against my skin reminds me I’m still here. I pick my Daughter up and hold her close. I squeeze her tight in the hope I can feel her close to me again. I hear her tiny brittle bones snap and crack against my own, as her lifeless head drops back over her neck. I stand over and look back into the barren eyes of my fiancé as she looks up at me with an empty look of question, as I hold the broken corpse of my child. I scream aloud. I drop my Daughter to the ground. I shout meaningless words into the face of my dead fiancé. I silence and listen to the ringing of my echoe.

I stand. I rub my eyes. I sit. My eyelids grow heavy. My will to stay awake weakens. I clamber back into bed and drift into a sleep; my family by my side; huddled together for warmth.

I am awoken at 3:13 in the morning. My eyes bolt open. This has become a frequent occurrence over the last few months. It’s not every night, just often enough to make me wary of the fact that I am. I awake exhausted, yet the faint insomnia that resides in the back of my mind fuels me and energizes me into a hypnotic like state. My body is motionless; paralyzed from my slumber, yet my mind thrives and pleads me to stand, as my thoughts race around my head like a lightning bolt.

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