Okay, I’ve been bad. Haven’t blogged for two months, and now I’m going to get back into it in the easiest, smoothest way possible-by posting yet another bit of my trunked novel! What better way to celebrate post-Irene (which, incidentally, knocked out our cable, so I couldn’t blog until today) than by putting up some free cyberlit?
So without further ado (and apologies in advance for any weird formatting):
“Night is a crushing thing. Darkness all around and the feeling that you’re floating in space. Unanchored, alone. That there’s no one to save you. No one.
• * * *
I awaken quickly, heart pounding.
It’s dark outside the car windows, full dark like the kind you don’t get in the city or even the suburbs. I try to take some deep breaths, try not to feel as if the sky outside is pressing down, as if the air’s drying up around me. The air’s there, I tell myself, just outside, all I have to do is press the button to roll down the window and than it’ll wash over me and I’ll be able to breathe…
I force myself to look at my aunt. Her fingers are gripping the steering wheel a little too tightly, the knuckles white. Had I said something in my sleep?
“I’m…” I try to think of something to say but my mouth feels funny. “I’m okay.”
But she knows I’m not. There’ve been enough nights I’ve woken up screaming. She knows.
I swallow and turn back towards the window, towards the pinpoints of light in the blackness. “Lots of stars.”
“One of the nicer things about the country.” Aunt Dana says. She reaches for the radio button on the dash. The blast of static makes us both jump. “Damn AM stations,” she laughs shakily. “Let’s see…”
She channel surfs until she comes to some syrupy woman’s voice singing an old pop tune. She smiles ruefully. “Better than nothing, huh?”
I try to say something, to smile even, but my chest is tightening again. It feels like something’s pressing my chest from outside of myself, vast fingers trying to squeeze me into nothingness, and there’s a cold metallic taste in my mouth and my cheeks and hands are tingling, almost numb, and I can’t breathe, my heart’s tripping so fast I can hear it…
The next thing I know we’re on the side of road and Aunt Dana’s rubbing my back, her hand warm and firm and steady. When she speaks, her voice is level, soothing. “S’okay. You’re okay, honey. Everything’s fine. We’ll find a place where it’s lit, okay? Get something to eat maybe, and than in just a couple of hours we’ll be home. Just a couple more hours, just a couple more. ‘Kay?”
The cold feeling in my face and fingertips starts to recede. My breathing steadies. But I can’t think about that too much, the breathing, because the more I focus on it the harder it is to do and I get scared all over again. I close my eyes than open them quickly because it’s too dark. “I’m sorry.” I whisper.
“Oh, sweetie, don’t be sorry…”
She pulls me into her arms and I rest against her. Slowly, gently she rocks me, her hair warm and sweet-smelling against my cheek. I burrow into her neck, into the comfort, the scent that reminds me of my mother. She used to use the same shampoo. She used to rock me the same way too, when I was scared or upset. It’s been a long time since she’d done that. Almost four years.”