Every night before going to sleep, I fall into the same routine. After work, I usually go to the gym or for a run, check my social media accounts for making or breaking news, read a couple of pages, play Candy Crush (yes, it’s still a thing), etc. Then I choose a show or a movie and gently sink deeper into my pillow. My fridge downstairs is the biggest noise-maker. It has one of those self-defrosting freezers (what’s the point, you ask? I don’t know.). When I first discovered the red-glowing heating element in the back, I must admit, I felt a bit uneasy – especially with the cracking sound of ice turning into water and evaporating on the coil. Over time, I got used to it. It doesn’t even wake me up anymore.
Tonight shouldn’t be any different. I kick off my shoes, throw the gym bag in a corner and get ready to go upstairs and cuddle with TV Land. I texted a couple of friends that I had neglected during the day. I checked social media profiles again – maybe something crucial has happened in the last 3 minutes. You never know.
I fall asleep.
I wake up at 2:15 am. I forgot to turn off the light. I role over and switch it off. Pitch black. The fridge is defrosting.
4:45. Of course – 15 minutes before I need to wake up anyway. That weird dream ended right where I didn’t want it to end. Trying to fall back asleep and turning that nightmare around in 15 minutes seems impossible.
I check my emails – nothing, except a couple of newsletters, someone liked my Facebook status (yeih), and mom sending me something I must read. Whatsapp – a friend from Spain just sent me a photo of her vacationing. I’m jealous – I haven’t been on vacation in forever. I live by the ocean, so I work where others go on holidays – so, technically, I don’t need to go away. The photo is automatically saved to my collection folder.
I put the phone away.
I pick it back up. Something had caught my eye. It was just too early and it needs some time to travel to my brain.
I open the collection folder and stumble upon a picture that is almost too dark to recognize… When did I take this? It’s almost pitch black… I probably hit a button at 2:15.
I shut the phone off.
I turn it back on.
The room is still dark.
The fridge is quiet.
The photo was taken at 2:17.
I have a couple of photo apps on my phone and decide to play with it. Maybe something cool will come out of it. That’s going on Instagram.
I increase the light, play with the contrast and am finally able to make out something in the dark.
My heart stops.
I see myself, lying on the bed, back turned to the phone. The picture is taken from above. My arms are wrapped around the pillow.
I live alone.
The fridge starts to defrost.
Epilogue: I think this is the first time that my own story will give me nightmares. Thank you, daily writing prompt!