It’s early enough to know that I shouldn’t be awake. There is no light aside from the grocery store night light plugged in by the doorway – casting a comforting orange hue onto the dark purple-painted walls. If I turn my head, the charging light of my lap top will shine in my eyes – the same orange color – and distract the mind from falling back asleep.
There is no particular reason that I should be asleep much like the house surrounding. Quiet wooden floors and plush white carpeting do not creak nor muffle the sound of steps – everything is as quiet as it should be at 4:30AM.
I sit up in bed, using the bottom of my palms to rub stars into the closed eyes they rested upon. The black faded once again as I rose from bed and moved into the hallway. A similar light is cast over the banister of the stairs that leads down into the dark abyss of the first floor just across from the canary red bathroom that I share with my older brother.
The door is half shut and remains that way. Turning the faucet on, I turn it to cold water and splash it on my face, leaned over the white Coca-Cola stained basin. It drips from my face back down the drain as I pick up the wool green towel crumpled up on the opposite side of the counter. I look at the person in the mirror before me as I pull the cloth away from my eyes.
It is hard imagining being the same person that has experienced their own fair share of trauma and life experiences as the girl who stands in front of a half-lit mirror wearing llama pajama pants and her fathers oversized t-shirt.
This was the same girl that had stood here numerous times before, face flush from the cold water resting on the surface, thinking the same exact thoughts over and over again. I had stood here nearly every day for 10 years – 11 in July – and each time my eyes locked with the light blue ones reflected back at me, I knew that this girl and this moment would just be repeated again. Not knowing what would be coming next, what life would be like exactly one year from now.
I don’t live there anymore. I am there visiting for the holidays and staying the night. I can hear my fathers voice down in the living room laughing at the Minions movie on TV, my mother’s fingers typing on the mechanical keyboard in front of her work laptop. My brother, still, is screaming at Call of Duty on the PS5 he plays in the room across the hall from mine. I wash my face and then sit at the top of the black carpeted stairs, listening to the sounds of the life I grew up with crawling over the walls of the house.
I still live at home, taking classes virtually from my desk beside the bed I sleep in every night. This is just another event that started the year before – waking up at 4:30AM every other day for no reason other than to get out of bed – and continues to haunt my nights. I haven’t slept through the night in weeks, waking up at least 5 or 6 times between the fall and the rise. I return to bed after closing the bathroom door, dreading my Spanish class that will test all of my knowledge at 9:30.
I haven’t fallen asleep yet – rather stayed up working on a project that I knew I should’ve started sooner but left until the last minute as always. I am at page 6 of 10 and if I take this one break I’ll be able to finish by 6AM and submit it. Whether it’s good or not – it will be submitted and I will rest, ignoring the rest of my assignments for a later date as I catch up on the much needed sleep.
Or maybe this is the last time that I look into the mirror. This is the last time that I can think back on all of the experiences of the girl staring back at me – the last time I can daydream about what could be coming next. The house could be sold in two months – the family could move and I would not be looking at the same mirror I did at 10 years old when the first gaze into it occurred, never thinking that she’d make it this far.
I drop my gaze and continue to pat myself dry. Leaving the towel in the same balled up position, I step out of the bathroom and close the door behind me. I decide that I don’t want to look into the mirror anymore tonight and I return to my imprint in bed. With the blankets lying over my frame, I shut my eyes and hug the extra pillow to the right. These thoughts will be left for another night – another 4:30AM.