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A Sign

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My room had become a prison, a cell I wanted to break free from but could never quite muscle the strength to break the lock. I lay on the stiff mattress, producing a creak every time I switched positions. As I tossed and turned for the next hour, the orange walls laughed at my discomfort and the ceiling seemed to drop an inch every second. A ticking clock rang through my ears, reminding me of the time being wasted. Waste. There was so much waste. Wasting time. Wasting away. Everything was put to waste.

Silence is never quite silent. When I listened to the silence, I was introduced to a playlist of foreign hums. Ringing. Drumming. Ticking.

Creak. I turned onto my side. The wall that greeted me never looked so blank before. So bare. So empty.

Creak. I flopped onto my back. The ceiling was no longer collapsing, just staring back at me.

A sigh escaped my lips before my lids closed. The darkness was unsettling. I crawled back to the light and suppressed another sigh. Even sighing took too much effort.

"Where are you?" I whispered to the ceiling, half-expecting a response. A lump began to form in my throat. I could feel it coming, I recognized the signs. Usually I would paste on another layer, coat myself and watch it harden into a shell that would resist any form of emotion. Now drowning beneath these layers and entirely ignorant to all feeling, I decided to fight. I was going to let the emotion come, let it drill a hole into my shell and taint my core. I was going to feel the pain. "Did you hear me? Where are you?!"

The silence grew louder. Everything felt heavy. My clothing was suffocating me and the air was too thick to inhale. A tear slid down my cheek which I didn't try to wipe away. I had almost forgotten what it felt like to cry.

"I asked you to give me signs. I asked you not to leave me. Where have you been? Where are you now?" Another tear followed. Then another, and another. "Are you even listening to me? Do you even care?"

More tears poured from my eyes and my make-up stained my cheeks in thick, black streaks. I barely heard the bed creak as I flipped onto my side and stared at the corner of the ceiling. I felt drawn to it. My gaze locked on that corner while the rest of my surroundings dissolved into a zone so dead to me, I should have feared it would never return. Maybe I didn't want it to return. If I could have stayed looking at that corner forever, I would have.

"Give me a sign, Dad. Show me you're still there. I need a sign, Dad. I just need a sign."

I imagined a change. I desperately wished for a sudden beam of light or a foreign thought to cross my mind. I hoped for some means of paranormal activity, anything. I cried my hopes out while the silence increased. The whole world was holding its breath for me. The world was turning blue and purple.

"You aren't here. I'm just acting foolish, aren't I? I'm not talking to you. Or anybody. I'm talking to a wall," I tried to avert my gaze from the corner but couldn't seem to accomplish such a small task. "Please tell me I'm wrong, Dad. Show me that I'm wrong. Show me something. Give me a sign."

Silence.

Finally, I tore my gaze from the corner of the ceiling and got to my feet. My tears had ceased and my breath evened. The color in the world slowly began to restore itself. It took a great effort to climb out of bed, and an even greater effort to leave my bedroom. I retreated down the hall and into the bathroom, splashed a handful of cold water onto my face, and collapsed onto the toilet seat. A cool breeze wafted through the open window and caressed my skin. I turned a cheek to the screen and locked my gaze on a silver hairbrush resting on the marble.

'Don't Stop Believing'

The thought departed as quickly as it had arrived. I blinked and stared straight ahead, not acknowledging the intricate design of the shower curtain, but seeing my own thoughts racing through my mind. They flashed before my eyes, each thought forming a sentence and scrolling behind my lids. The silence hummed in the distance, finally beckoning me back to reality. I wasn't sure how long I had been absent. When I looked down, my cat was parked by my feet. It meowed and rubbed against my legs in a feeble attempt of comforting me.

I pet the cat with one hand and stared at the treetops in the backyard. Something stirred inside of me.

"Was that my sign, Dad?" I calmly asked.

The silence that followed did not bother me this time. Instead, I simply nodded in acceptance.

I still believed.




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