The familiar shocks run down my legs and here they go doing the herky-jerky dance again. Lyrica stopped working. Out of Ambien. Day three of no sleep after another twelve-hour hospital shift. Stuck in that in between of consciousness and sleep. I begin floating into dreamland and fall into rhythmic breathing. My body betrays me with a jerk awakening my senses. I feel it coming. He’s coming for me. I run through the checklist in my head.

One, call her. But it’s 2:12 a.m. I can’t pull her into this fragmented reality again.
Two, my boys aren’t here. They are safe. But now he’s here. The shadows swoop down from the ceiling. The Taliban man. From the corner of the room, he taunts, but a body weighed down by unseen wounds can’t move. Move, damnit, move! Grab your gun.

Three, you shouldn’t have your gun. But now he has my son, blade pressed to his neck. The blood drips from the sharp edge. My boy! He screams for me and my body jerks.

Four, grab your keys and go. He sits next to me in the truck, my oldest on his lap with the blade in his chest. I taste the salty tears as they slide onto my lips. 

Five, don’t let him fool you. You aren’t real! But I start to take my hands off the wheel. I want to grab his neck. I want to watch him suffer, like he’s made me suffer. I want to watch his eyes go empty. No! I won’t. 

Six, park the car and go inside. Help me! He’s here in the emergency room waiting beside my bed. He screams at the doctor as he injects the medication. My eyes empty their last tears as enter the relief of a dreamless sleep.
Danielle Birnell is a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing student from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Additionally, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in December 2015. Danielle is a veteran of the United States Army and served overseas in Kuwait and Afghanistan. She currently resides in South Texas with her dog and two children.

You may also like

Back to Top