It’s always three am when it hits her hardest. The depression, the loneliness, the uncertainty. It’s the time when she might once have prayed or cried, but she’s forgotten how to do both. Prayers and tears are reserved for special occasions. They don’t mean an awful lot anymore. Three am is almost a ritual by now. When she’s sleeping it’s not nearly as bad, but she’s hardly ever sleeping by then now.
She thinks while she waits for sleep. Tangled threads of shadowed half-thoughts. Rarely words, just feelings and cold. She knows she’s missing something, but she can’t think of what. She knows something’s wrong, but she can’t find the problem. Perhaps everything is problem, the forest hiding in the trees.
Sometimes she thinks of music, words floating though her head in a mismatched melody. Lyrics that tell a story until her heart threatens to stop and her thoughts run away from a note too close to home. She forgets what the words said. She always forgets.
Sometimes she thinks in words, disjointed phrases that lead her in dizzying circles of rational. Sometimes her words spill out in the dim glow of a monitor or whispered pleas for something, anything to change this. She thinks she prays sometimes, but the words feel all wrong and her thoughts run away from that as well. Praying makes her feel too empty, too alone. She doesn’t like the emptiness. It hurts more than numbness.
Sometimes she thinks about him. Her half-formed wish. Her thoughts turn to dreams and she smiles. But only on the good nights. Other nights she thinks of him and her hollow chest stabs her throat. She knows better than to believe in dreams. She wishes she could make that fluttering in her stomach when she sees him understand.
Once in a while a tear wets her eye lashes. It’s the most she cries at three am. She lets the moisture dry in the air. It makes her feel alive, human. She wishes she could remember how to sob. The cavity in her chest seems filled with oceans. But tears don’t fall for depression, or loneliness, or uncertainty. Tears fall when she thinks of her siblings. Tears fall for her family.
She cried at midnight on her nineteenth birthday. She sobbed for hours, away from home, in another’s room. She sobbed for her sister and her brothers, for her parents, and the home she couldn’t wait to escape. She sobbed for the years slipping away and the years yet remaining. Since then she spends more time at home. Since then she cares more about birthdays.
At three am she lies awake and tries to breathe evenly. She holds still despite the tumult of her mind. She tries not to wake the girl in the next bed. At three am she stares at the cold digits and waits for her mind to slow. For the tangled threads to twist into dreams. At three am she sits in the glow of the monitor and does not cry.