I. Am Still. Awake.
by Kalina "Kitten" MaCreery
Sleep deprivation. It happened during school and it still happens in life. Talk about your attempts to survive on very little sleep and how effective they were/are.
When I pondered this, the story that came to me isn’t really so much about surviving as it is about creating during piques of insomnia. To many, creating is surviving…
But what does it do to our muse when we keep them awake with us for so very very long…
"I. Am still. Awake.”
He had been staring at the screen for what seemed like hours. Hell, it probably had been hours. Nothing. Things had started well enough. Words tumbled out of his fingers like they knew it was where they wanted to be. Now…He couldn’t remember the last time he had slept. The rest of the story would not come until he had…well, rest. Rest would not come until the story could rest. It was a vicious cycle with which he had become all too familiar.
She sat on the couch. She twisted the long sleeves of her sweater over her hands. She picked at her nails, bit at her lip, tousled her cherry-pop red hair, rubbed at her neck and let out an exhausted sigh.
“I’m tired.” The slight gravel of her voice broke the dense silence.
“We’re both tired.” He muttered, more to himself than in reply.
“How much longer”, she asked.
He rubbed his eyes and slumped back in the chair.
He looked over his shoulder at the couch. She had turned back to staring at the little girl. They both sat staring at each other with the same deep eyes. The little girl’s dark hair dark hair shimmered in the glow from his computer monitor. The two shared the same complexion with skin so pale that seemed to have its own inner light. He rubbed his eyes and turned back to the computer.
It wasn’t going to work this way. It never worked this way.
“Come here” he said.
“Why,” she asked, not taking her eyes off the little girl.
“I need you. Come here.”
“Yeah?” she said as she crossed to his desk. “What do you need me for?” he asked with a coy smile.
“Everything”, he replied in a low growl.
He pushed the sleeves of her sweater up and surveyed her arms. Her history was told in the scars traced over her arms. In places he thought he could even read words. He kissed the inside of her wrist and thought about all she had been through. He stood and pushed the hair from her face. He nuzzled his face into her neck and took a deep breath. She had this scent, like opium and vanilla, but it was all her and it drove him insane. Just breathing in her scent and he could feel inspiration start to tickle at his brain.
He kissed her neck and whispered, “I do all of this for you, you know.” He delicately kissed her shoulder as he stretched her sweater down to exposed more of her luminescent skin. His fingers traced across the lattice work of scars on her chest. The thought about how delicate they seemed. He wondered if they had hurt. He wondered if they still hurt her somewhere. Then he saw the perfect spot. The subtle arching of her breast as it rose from her sternum was it. That spot over her heart was perfect.
He rubbed his thumb in the spot pulling her skin taught. “Here”, he whispered. She turned her head and gazed at him over her shoulder. He could feel her heart beat quicken. He looked into her face. Her green eyes seemed even more intense as they stared at him from within the heavy kohl lining. He picked up the razor blade from the corner of the desk. His eyes stayed locked with hers as he drew the blade across her skin. She bit the corner of her lip in that way that made the hair on the back of his neck stand up. He looked down to her chest just as the rivulet of her blood ran down to his hand.
Quickly, he placed his hand over the cut. He didn’t want any of it to be wasted. He picked up a quill pen from the desk and dipped it into the blood on her chest. As soon as he touched the pen to the paper the words flowed out of him.
This was how it worked. This was how it always worked. The sterility of the computer was useless. But when given the blood of his muse he could create worlds…universes. Poetry and form flowed from him as easily as breath when he sculpted the reality from pieces of her. That was where the magic came from.
The words flowed from her blood and to the page. She sat in silence on her knees by the desk as her heart was his ink well. He wrote at fevered pitch as the words clamored to escape. Completely oblivious to all, his fugue state consumed him.
When it broke, she still sat as the blood began to dry on her chest. He looked down to her, stroked her hair and brushed his fingers gently across her cheeked. She let her eyes fall to the floor.
“Thank you. I can take it from here.” With that, he turned to the keyboard to transpose the blood to electronics.
She returned to the couch where she sat with the little girl. The two, again, staring at each other in silence.
He finished the typing and went back to proof read the work. There was just the one bit he didn’t like. He turned and looked at the little girl on the couch. He couldn’t remember where she had come from. Perhaps she was the child they had lost. Perhaps it was the younger version of the woman, a piece of her from before she became what she was now. It disconcerted him. It made him uncomfortable. He didn’t like that. He took a few of the written pages and put them through the shredder. He read over the document on the screen and found the right place. From there it was easy. Highlight and delete.
“But…,” she started to protest.
He looked back to see her reaching out to the space where the little girl had been. In her space - nothing. Deleted.
“Why…,” she started.
“I’m done,” he interrupted. “I’m going to bed. Are you coming?”
“In a few minutes,” she replied softly as she rubbed at the razor cut across her breast.
He wasn’t sure how long he had been asleep. It was a deep and dreamless sleep which always followed the writing. He also wasn’t sure exactly what had awakened him. To be fair, he wasn’t really sure he was awake.
She stood in the doorway. Her figure was a silhouette in the doorway, lit by the glow from his computer screen.