She lay back on the mattress, her head nestling into the soft down of the pillow. She craved the solace of sleep, of relaxation, yet her neck felt stiff and her head was pounding. Too many nights of grinding her teeth, of tossing and turning in a disturbed half-sleep, had set her entire body on edge. Serenity now seemed like a distant oasis on the horizon; it flickered and beckoned to her, but the chasm between her and it felt insurmountable.
She had spent days, nay weeks, locked inside the echo chamber of her own dark thoughts. Negativity reigned supreme in every corner of her mind, murky tendrils swirling like dark smoke and permeating every thought. Worthless. Useless. Failure. The hateful words reverberated in her skull, blighting her every waking moment and cursing her with bleak fever dreams of pain and suffering.
Where did it come from, she wondered, this hurtful tirade in her brain? She recounted the months leading up to her slide into the broiling black tide of despair, looking for clues. Analysing, overturning each memory, she shook them, up-ended them, waiting for some explanatory piece of grit to fall free and provide the answer she sought. If she could ascertain the cause, she reasoned, she could work out how to heal. If you can’t locate the cut, how can you know where to apply the antiseptic?
But as time had progressed, and the darkness had taken over, there was little light left to shine on her mind. The malaise had infiltrated so deeply that she could no longer bear to continue looking inside. She had grown too afraid of what she might see, what monsters were lurking in the gloom and waiting to pounce. And so, in the fleeting moments when her vision would try to sneak a peek between tightly clenched fingers, she would yell at herself No! Stop! Don’t! She felt nothing but acute danger. Her mind had turned against her, and her mind was powerful.
She brought a hand up to cup her breast. It was not a sexual move, far from it. She could not find any whisper of libido and, in fact, the thought of sex was a turn off at the moment. It felt like too much bother. Like everything else, really. When she had attempted to masturbate, she’d lain naked and staring at the ceiling for what felt like hours (though in fact it couldn’t have been more than forty minutes), with not the slightest stirring in her nether parts. Not even the ministrations of a clitoral stimulator to her usually hyper-sensitive button could succeed in drawing her libido back to life. Increasingly, she just became frustrated and angry, so she threw the toy on the mattress with an irate thump, and pulled her clothes back on.
So, no, the hand cradling her breast was not sexual. Sensual, perhaps, in that the warmth of her flesh cupped perfectly in her own palm was soothing and welcoming. It was a touch of solace, both as the touch-er and the touch-ee. Her breast fit comfortably in her hand, soft and supple. And the curl of her hand around her own flesh felt like the touch of compassion. I’ve got you. Don’t be afraid.
She knew there was a way out, that the light would shine again, but it would take some time to recover. It always did. No matter how loudly the disparaging voices in the echo chamber shouted that she was weak and that there was no point, no hope, she continued to hold on to the wish, the promise, that somewhere there was always one little light left burning, and that it would eventually guide her back and lead her home. Back to herself.
All alone with my fears
No words are spoken
A story yet to be told
Locked in my mind
Hope is somewhere ahead
But the past is always following
See my life going by,
each moment I’m alive
I keep reaching out, holding on,
Hoping somewhere in my life there’s one light burning.
Words and Music: RICHARD SAMBORA, THOMAS MAROLDA, BRUCE FOSTER