When the World Went to Sleep

I took a creative writing class in high school. It was a snow day, and where I lived they had “NTI days,” where even though it was a snow day, the teachers had to give us online assignments or send us home with a packet to do or something. Personally, I hated them with everything in me, they were usually a lot harder and more time consuming than just the regular school work, but my Senior year I had just work blocks, English, French, Creative writing and my Independent Art Study, (which I basically used as another work block- I was running a graphic design business- that’s art, right?) so none of my assignments were ever horribly unenjoyable.

In fact, I looked forward to having to write all day. My creative writing assignment this day was a prompt to write a short story centered around a physiological conflict. I went ahead and spent as much time as I wanted on it, trying to get it well-written in under a page.

I still love this original one. This is the story that I went on to turn into Lonely Awake later.

When the World Went to Sleep

It was a cold morning, snowing, but she kept the room warm with a space heater throughout the night, and with school obviously canceled, she woke up to her room feeling more like a summer day. She shifted from her side to her back, and looked at the ceiling for a good while, thinking about what summer felt like. Her sixteenth birthday was last summer, she had a small party with all her friends, she loved that day. She thought about how on the more quiet days of summer, she would throw the covers off herself and go have coffee with mom-

Oh, right. Coffee.

She picked up her half-finished coffee by her bedside from yesterday and went out to the kitchen to make a fresh cup, knowing full well she should only fill it halfway, but she didn’t. Maybe she would finish it today, put ice in it after lunch… some whipped cream to spice things up a bit.

She usually would expect to hear the dog’s nails tap on the floor for it’s daily dollop of whipped cream, but she didn’t feel she needed to poke her head in the living room to know he was still sleeping. These mornings, everyone was still asleep. She talked to herself though, a lot these past few months. It was very quiet, with everyone sleeping all the time… None of them have been awake since she wrote the date this lonely phenomenon started. She had used to keep a tally on the whiteboard on the fridge, but she didn’t like how she was running out of room on it, or the feeling of herself as a prisoner scratching the tally onto the walls of a cell. She knew she wasn’t in a prison, but she didn’t want to leave. The image of the late-shift cashier dropped asleep from when she first went to restock on food still snuck its way around her thoughts, she would talk to herself to change the subject. But even these ice breakers with herself began to have their awkward silences at the end. Though, she was starting to appreciate them, thinking about how talking to people was an art you had to master, and she felt she had lots of time to practice with herself in the mirror, it was still a relief to see a human being reflect expressions back, to blink and move.

She understood she was going crazy, and expected it from the day she wrote “June 25th, 2017” above the long count of tallies.

It was sick, the spell. Everyone is asleep, as close to death as you come, but it gives the false hope they will all wake up. She thought a lot about sleeping beauty, how the story showed mercy on the princess, making her fall asleep. But no, this spell, that creature said, will tear her piece by piece, and she had begged him, begged him to tell her what he had cursed her with, all he said through a long fit of laughter was “Oh, it’s coming! It’s coming! Then, it will hit! But then, the spell will be gone- but all too late!” And now that it has “hit,” she was able to put together what the monster meant by, “-but all too late.”

To be asleep like a princess, not even needing to feel hope- just simply unconscious– unaware of how close she is to death, how miserable the princess would be, had she been awake.

Oh, what she would give to be unconscious right now.

To feel that peace the people around her are experiencing…

To be like that princess.
She would give her very life.
And that is what she was about to do.

She knew that once she drank this coffee with all her mother’s expired pills, when she made her last breath, the world would wake up again, in that unfortunate irony the creature laughed at, everyone would wake up, but all too late.