Starry Night

Jolted out of a deep sleep I find that a tender ice-cold breeze has reached its spidery coils through the open window, ruffling the gossamer thin curtains. The violent bang of the window frame upon the bare wall of the room must have been what woke me. I cannot recall leaving the window open to the late autumn night. It is something I do from time to time but I felt the cold coming, I recall leaving it latched. Yet it here stands wide open and the room has grown so profoundly cold the I can see my very breath, it is a glaring reminder that winter is not far away.
The window hangings flap in the opening conjuring up the image of the tattered shreds of a phantom shroud, beckoning me into their icy embrace. Pushing off the heavy comfort of the old quilt on the bed I slide out of the only warmth in the room. Slowly, I cross the uneven surface of the old wood floor, the frosty cold steals deep into the soles of my bare feet.
“Where are you going?” the sleepy voice of my husband questions from the bed. I can see his form shifting under the quilt as he rolls over.
“It is so cold in here” I can see my breath as I reply. “Just need to close the window.”
“Come back to bed, you need your rest”
That is the whole reason why we are here in this place. The doctor says I am exhausted and I need some rest. I think they don’t understand. I think they don’t really know what is wrong.
“Be right there” I mumble, by the sound of his ragged breath I know he has fallen back asleep and isn’t listening.
Reaching the open window I pause for an instant to gaze out, mesmerized by the full moon floating in the air. The glimmering reflective sphere, so abundant and heavy, casts an eerie light that fills the night.
I take a deep breath of the night air smelling the wetness of the earth and the robust aroma of the eucalyptus trees standing guard at the edge of the expansive lawn below. A fresh clean minty smell that evokes childhood memories of the salves momma used when as a little one and had come down with a cold or some type of congestion. That was before, when I wasn’t “unwell” like I am now. Then my illness was easy to understand and cure and treat. I am no longer the little baby in swaddling clothes with the loving mother to care for it. I am the lonely sad creature that is here in this freezing room on the edge of nowhere with only the moon to comprehend.
The Moon, such a misunderstood object. Talk of moonlight is common, in poem and in song, yet the moon does not create any light at all. A cold, dry ball with a surface peppered with craters and frosted with rocks and dust and darkness, it simply reflects the light of the sun. There is a darkness inside of me. Suffocating, taking away all of the color in the world, food has no taste, life has no joy. It is what they all say has made me unwell. The Doctor’s, Nurse’s, my loving husband, all of them. They don’t understand that it is a living breathing entity just as much as they are. It isn’t something I can just snap out of. There is just so much pain and anguish that tumbles around inside my head and in my heart. It has developed and transformed, swelling to become something undefinable. I no longer reflect any light.
Through the streaked glass of the window the deep azure sky churns like a sea of lapping waves threaded with liquid silver and sprinkled with golden shimmering stars as wispy clouds race across the surface. The moon is all alone in the darkness, much like I feel myself. Even surrounded by the stars it stands alone. The illumination it provides is distant and cold yet so brilliant that it shines down upon the sleepy little country village below like daylight. A sprinkling of tidy white houses with red clay roofs line the brick-paved streets. They seem so far away that they appear to be children’s playthings. All the windows stand black, devoid of any sign of life. Just like a window into my soul. It as though every other living being has been swept away, leaving me here alone in this icy world. Between me and the miniature toy village stands a majestic church with a tall white steeple. The spire reaching up to the moon as it is also begging, praying for understanding, compassion, or love.
Securing the window latch I ensure the breeze will not push it back open to fill the room with more of the night’s icy cold breath. I gently pull the delicate gauzy curtains open to allow the night sky to be seen from any place in the room. Turning towards the bed I cross the room to return to the downy warmth of the antique quilt that holds the loving arms of my husband and a promise of warmth.
I cannot help but glance over my shoulder to look out again at the moon. I feel reassured to know it is still there, watching me. The coldness lingers in the room, creeping under the bedframe, crawling across the floor, snaking along the floorboards wrapping its coils around the space, holding on, not wanting to let go of the hold it has upon the room.
Step by step I make my way across the frozen floor on feet that have grown numb from the cold. The distance between the window and the bed seems to have grown. What was only a few paces now seems to be leagues. My mind drifts off to the dark things crouched inside me. Such a pretty, little monsters, full of ugliness and beauty at the same time. They are all mine, and I keep them to myself, holding onto them with the desperation of a mother clutching onto the shell of her child that has long since passed. Refusing to let go, because release means that all that is left is facing reality and being left with only the overwhelming grief of a loss so profound that is holds the power to transform who you are at your very core.
At long last I arrive at the foot of the bed. I run my hand along the fancy scroll work of the white wrought iron frame. The twirls and dips of the metal mirror the swirls of the night sky. I find my attention drawn back to the view beyond the window. Knowing that I can easily slip back into the blissful depths of slumber and let the troubles of the world and in my mind disappear I stop for half a second to wonder why I chose to turn away and return my study of the moon and the stars. The moment passes quickly and I let my mind wander back to the things eating me up and making me ill while I gaze at the world beyond.
Every hurtful word and experience of my life up till now has created a vicious little creature that now resides inside. A great number of these are contributions from others, bloody offerings, gifts that haunt my mind, torture my soul. Some I have created for myself. These are the most treacherous of my sinister little demons. Existence based on some deep subconscious longing to cause myself harm. Feeding them with my own disturbed thoughts I watch them grow strong. I bury them all down deep within, were it is shadowy and dark, a damp cold dungeon, a black pit of misery, the perfect place to sit and rot. Deep where no light can ever penetrate. In the inky blackness, eyes glowing bright, as bright as the golden twinkling stars. Watching, waiting for the moment to reveal themselves. When all is quiet in the night and I am alone with only my thoughts, my wall of defense becomes weak. They creep up, sneaking into my mind in the dead of night, like this night. The fiend under the bed that has been patiently lying in wait for me to shift position and carelessly pull the covers off my feet, revealing my defenseless flesh. Giving the perfect opportunity to sluggishly slither cold, clammy hands up the side of the bed and wrap around an exposed ankle.
The tiniest fissure is all that is needed for them to wriggle through. As a spring flower opens its delicate petals to the sun, my dark, putrid bloom emerges in the darkness and stretches forth, a rotten decaying deep scarlet rose adorned with razor sharp thorns that prick the flesh and draw fresh blood. Tendrils snaking around my form wrapping around me like a cloud of black wispy smoke, enveloping my form entirely until I am no longer visible, I am disappearing I have ceased to exist outside of this darkness, it has finally consumed me.
“Honey, are you out of bed again?” the concern in his voice is unmistakable.
Suddenly I snap back to the moment, the here and now. How long have I been standing here?
“I’m coming back now” I whisper gently, “don’t worry my love.”
Legs so cold I find it difficult to move. Stumbling slightly, I take the last few steps and pull back the quilt. Sliding in I pull the thick, soft blanket up to my chin as the warmth of my husband’s arms envelope me. Seeking some comfort, hoping to find it here. Closing my eyes I realize for the first time that I do need help, I am unwell. I want to move into the light and let go of these dark thoughts. Softly I voice a goodbye to the darkness of the night. For the first time in longer than I can remember I feel that I can let in the light and love.

Amy De Ann Copley-Curtin's photo.
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