Never ending darkness surrounds the sleeping child, but its mother comforts it within the blinding void. It knows the darkness is temporary, and it knows the darkness will pass. When the sun shines through the brisk, morning air, and when its eyelids flutter open upon feeling the light’s calming heat, the darkness will pass, and all will be right.
But sometimes, the darkness does not pass so quickly, and sometimes, everything is wrong.
He wakes up with a start, eyes wide open, darting from left to right. His breathing is calm, but his heart is in turmoil. Faster and faster it beats, producing a slick, glistening shine of sweat on his brow. He opens his eyes, and he gulps as he listens to the rhythm of his pulse echoing within his head. He opens his eyes.
He can’t open his eyes. No, they are open. He feels his eyelids spread apart as he blinks and looks about what should be his room. He feels the lids shut and open as his tongue grows dry within his open maw. It seems the sensation of sight has vanished from the realm of possibility. His heart pounds harder; why can’t he see?
# Within the void in front of him, nothing seems right. Alone, drifting within the darkness, it’s as if the lack of light has manifested into its own state of existence. No longer is it simply the lack of the sun or a light-bulb, but it is an ocean of liquid that surrounds him and seeks to drift him further and further away from the realm of normality that he so desperately found himself accustomed to. This liquid of pure darkness covers him as if he were floating against a pool of water, allowing nothing but the buoyancy of the air filling his lungs keeping him from sinking further downwards. His mind begins to calm, and he almost finds himself at peace.
Thud, thud, thud, thud.
His heart breaks the serenity, reminding him that this is wrong.
Thud thud thud thud.
The sound of his heart fills his head, drowning out all his thoughts.
THUD THUD THUD THUD.
He feels his pulse rattle his brain like thunder. The veins against his temples continuously press against his flesh, bulging out so violently he feels they may burst at any second. Nothing is right about this, he realizes. His eyes are open, yet he is blind? He was in his bed just moments ago, now he feels as if he is lost at sea. He was not alone in his bed either. Where is his partner?
He flails his limbs, but they do not move. His muscles contract, his brain is sending the appropriate signals to force them into motion, but they are frozen stiff. His breathing grows sporadic, and he is unable to return to the peaceful grace he once found himself in. His hair drips with sweat, matted with his physical fear as a foreign sound penetrates the entrance to his ears.
Sobbing, someone is sobbing. A girl. His wife. He shakes his head, looking frantically for her in this sea of sightless darkness. There is no one but he, and he is alone. Still, she sobs relentlessly, and he can hear her voice grow manic, her vocal cords surely ready to tear and drive her hoarse at any moment.
“You did this to yourself,” a voice echoes in the darkness. “You did this to yourself. You were digging your own grave, you knew you were. Now you must lay in it.”
That is not the woman, no. This voice belongs to him. It does not echo from the ocean, it echoes inside his mind.
“You know what you did. You’re sick. You’re vile. No one should love you. No one should be near you. You only deserve yourself and the demons inside your mind. You only deserve their comfort, and their comfort is all you should receive.”
“I’m sorry,” he cries. “I’m so sorry. It's never going to happen again while I still live and breath!” His breathing grows rampant inside his chest, his heart threatening to break through his ribcage and claw out of his body in sheer disgust of the man it is forced to live within.
“No. It’s too late for that. You have done this to yourself, and you will drown in the depression you have cast yourself in.”
He tries to respond, but as soon as any attempt is made, a cold, heavy sensation presses against his chest. It pushes down on him. Roughly. He can feel an impression set against his skin, his ribs dipping inward as if his chest and organs were collapsing within himself, falling into whatever deep, dark pit was forming at the presence of this weight.
Suddenly, he feels himself sinking into the dark liquid, which now has become a dense, tar-like sludge. He opens his mouth to cry out, but the darkness only begins to pour into his open maw. His breathing is halted, and he begins choking frantically as the unseen force continues to push him down ever further into the muck.
He begins to feel his legs again, and he kicks his feet without pattern or reason in a desperate attempt to free himself from the ocean’s wrath. He begins to feel his arms again, and he rapidly flails them about in a pitiful effort to swim upwards, but still, he continues to sink downward into hell. The cold, tenacious sludge crawls down his throat, filling his stomach with an unpleasant, quivering sickness as his face grows pale without oxygen.
His eyes begin to water, and the sludge begins to writhe its way beneath his eyelids, causing an abrupt sensation of pain to ring out against his head. Quickly, he swipes his hands across his face, pulling off the night-mask he so regularly uses to assist himself in falling asleep.
Light pours into his field of vision, revealing his bedroom to be exactly how he left it before falling asleep earlier that morning. He finds himself slumped upwards, breathing roughly as his heart pounds away inside of him. He blinks, looking down at his sweat-dripped form, his buttocks planted firmly against the mattress of his bed, as one could expect. He coughs, a mix of phlegm and mucous being forced out of his throat and mouth, spilling onto the bed’s covers that continued to surround his legs.
He gulps, releasing a breath of abrupt air as he lightly smiles. All a dream, nothing more. He checks his phone.
It reads 9:45 am. One new message: “I took our daughter to her Dr. Appointment, love you lots honey bunny, sleep well, be home later.”
His smile brightens, and he lays back down against his bed. He grows far more calm, his worries being put to rest rather quickly. He takes his night-mask and covers his eyes once more, and he covers his body with his blankets. The darkness consumes him once again, but it’s okay. # His family will return in the afternoon’s hours, and when his eyelids flutter open upon feeling his wife’s calming embrace, the darkness will pass, and all will be right.
Still, the cold, heavy sensation continues to press itself against his chest. It threatens to consume him, his organs feeling as if they’ll be sucked into the abyssal cavern that could form against its weight. But that’s okay. He’s learned to live with it. It never truly goes away. Sometimes it lessens, sometimes it grows worse, but it’s always there.
His darkness may be at its peak right now, but someday it will pass, and all will be right.