The ceiling hasn’t changed in the last hour, but the light coming under her door has gone out. She knows she’s the only one left awake.
If she tilts her head slightly she can see the sky through the gaps in her blinds. She can see the tree branch that reaches up over her house, she can see the streetlamp just beside her window, and beyond that she can see the clouds and beyond that, the ever present stars.
The first raindrop hits her window and she watches it spatter outward, already having been joined by more. She watches them collect, the luminescence of the streetlight making them glow. Watches them get fatter and heavier and thinks of how she used to do this once when she was innocent, and she used to watch them as they raced across the car window, betting with her sister on which one she’d think would win. She thinks of how she’d always lose those kinds of bets.
Through her walls she hears the wind. Rain on the roof tiles. Thunder in the clouds. She thinks of how her sister hated storms like this, and the nights they’d spent holding onto one another under the covers. She thinks of the stories she’d invented, distractions from the terror without. Whispers in the dark painting ideas of angels and love. She thinks of her sister’s voice, too loud and too jumpy, but musical nonetheless, saying “Can I be an angel?” and her whispering back, a smile in her voice, “You already are.”
Her eyes are still closed as she’s pulled from the nightmare. Only her fingers move, rapidly searching her throat for a necklace that’s no longer there. A necklace she’d left with her sister. She doesn’t move but her mind wanders in the dark, lingering on the details of her nighttime terror. A coffin half the size it should have been. A life half the length it should have been. A night twice as long as any should have ever been. Long sirens and red lights flash in her memory, a sudden crash and deadly silence. Four people in the car, three voices screaming in pain. Three beds in a hospital emergency room. Three.
Three pills left in her hand, five down her throat and one in her mouth. Her hand shakes every time her head tilts back, every time another one goes down. These will let her sleep. She knows. That’s what her mother says they’re for. These will make her sleep. She remembers how she used to never want to sleep, how her sister used to make her stay up late watching movies and eating sweets. She remembers that she’s not supposed to think of her sister. She knows. That’s what her father says.
“Can I be an angel?” she asks the darkness.
The darkness replies, “You already are.”