The latest installment in a series of epiphanies

It was dark when her eyes flew open. The room was dark, humid, cool. The sheets were tangled. She reached for the alarm clock, pressing the button that made the numbers glow. 5:30 am. She reached for the space in her chest, fingers brushing the place where the warm pulsing could be felt. A dream, she thought.

It was hard to breathe. Like her lungs were bound by rope.

Eyes adjusting to the room’s dimness, she fixed her gaze on the white beams that ran down the length of the ceiling. She listened to herself breathe. This is real life, she thought, with skin and sweat and hair and all the things that dust can cling to. A breeze stirred, rattling the blinds gently. She shut her eyes and tried to fall asleep again.

The dream came, and a face.

Panicking, she sat up, eyes darting to the lumpy stuffed toy that lay at the foot of her bed. She grabbed it, and as she stared down at its round black eyes and gaping mouth, realized one thing she had not realized: that, perhaps, she cared more about the person she'd dreamt of than she had known.

Have this, she thought, pressing a pillow to the side of her face, cradling the stuffed toy in her arms, wondering if her God could hear her in this half-asleep state, dizzy with pictures and sadness and the haziest possibilities. She felt blind, as if a hundred unseen roads stretched out before her and she could not pick, because she could not see.

Stay, she thought, and it was more of a plea than anything, because maybe, maybe this was it. She didn’t know, but she said it, anyway. Please stay.

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