I can see the air before me, and the dust particles bring a serene to the gloaming.

My eyes are frozen and I can’t close them even though they burn with fatigue. I’ve forgotten what sleep feels like — the only makeup on my face being the purple that accents my dark eyes. They begin to strain, and I feel them sinking back into their sockets as they grow wider.

While in a daze, I lift my hand and gently stroke my hair. It’s become thick and wiry over time. It hangs in a clip that holds on to the dry strands like fingers grasping at the thin threads of life. Sparse threads that blur Death’s visage on the other side.

I turn my head, but my eyes remain on the dancing must. I move my hand through my hair once more. The dry strands feel so stiff.

My eyes snap straight, the strain now echoing in my brow. I stare into the darkness. The empty Victorian sofa is ominous in the gray light fading into the tea room. The white lace curtain draping over its edge is like an old wedding veil collecting dust. The flowers in the vase on the cherry wood stand collect mites in the dim light, their stalks drooping from neglect — their scent no longer sweet but stale as mold claims their petals. All of this is beautiful to me as I sit and observe the passing of time.

The rain outside has become a drizzle, and a storm is imminent on the horizon. The world is draped in gray, the once beautiful blue sky now turned to soot. The atmosphere weighs heavily on my chest and the frigid Autumn chills my bones — these aching bones that long to move from this chair.

A wave of fatigue washes over me like an invisible weight. I grasp my teacup and gaze at my reflection in the brown water. A pale and sickly face stares back, one not of my own. My irises are black and my face gaunt. I see the shadows in my eyes that haunt me — shadows that follow me day after day and into my nightmares. I become frightened and my chest flutters with a powerful fear. I lift the floral porcelain to my lips and sip the spicy tea as whispers surround me.

The tea is like ice.

©2020 Shane Blackheart
Originally written in 2011


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