TO GROW UP

It is dark. Not an overwhelming phantom of emptiness with nothing in sight, but it is dark. A darkness in which everything feels calm, with the softest whispers of the sky entering through my windows. A darkness in which the beat of my heart feels comfortable in my chest, despite the weakness in its rhythm.

The couch, which I would usually deem less embracing than a bed of burning coal, has become the subject of my warmth and serenity. And my mind, which would usually be a quagmire of destructive thoughts this time a day, is without thought. Even if just for a little while.

Today feels different.

My eyes close involuntarily, embracing the comfortable feeling of unfamiliarity. The blanket of air around me is just warm enough. And I feel myself slip into the state between consciousness and unconsciousness.

The clutter of keys and the quiet but noticeable opening of the door do not escape my ears, but seem to leave them unperturbed— with not even the slightest of movement of my body in response.

The hushed whispers of my parents underscore my need to not be woken up. To stay in the very position that seems so very impossible to replicate again. But I still thought, still knew that I would wake up in my own bed. That he would carry me upstairs and everything would be normal again. My mind, however, seems to have gone too deep into the state of relaxation to allow it.

I feel the familiar touch of my mother’s lips on my forehead, and my father’s hand on my cheek. I wait. I wait for his arms to wrap around me, and pick me up.

Instead, I hear the fading sound of footsteps.

I find myself hoping, with a newfound feeling of desperation, to change my state of being I previously thought was unparalleled.

My eyes open and the beat of my heart starts to hurt my chest.

I lay waiting.

Waiting for everything to go back to the way it was. To go back to normal. My heart aches for the feeling of familiarity. The air becomes colder.

My eyes close again, reluctantly. My mind starts to go over the innumerable list of things I would have given to wake up in my bed tomorrow.

– Meghna Gaddam, 11 AICE

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