She tossed and turned, then checked her phone.
There was no one beside her, and it was four a.m.
In the darkness, her phone’s screen glowed like rectangular image in her palm, displaying her home screen wallpaper. Raindrops dotted the windowpane in the picture, glittering in the prevailing sun after the rain. The scene almost seemed too cheerful, now.
Because it was cold.
Her body felt chilled, frozen; her mind bleak, the very opposite of the sun-glittering scene depicted on her screen. That image was only hopeful, something of an illusion, in a way. Something that reminded her of what life could be, of what life probably should be. Of what life perhaps was to other people.
Her screen almost seemed lifeless now. The time ticked on away, the digital dots between the hour and the minute blinking in and out of existence, like kids playing peekaboo in the stars.
The stars—she wondered what they looked like tonight, if she could see them at all.
Life in the city would probably never changed—you would never see the stars, and the sky above will always look so bleak.
Some probably forgot that dreams even existed.
Her heart ached again, and her left palm felt that surge of pain. It pulsed, as if a knife had stabbed right through her palm. She imagined a camera, looked in through its lens, and imagined it hover around her in midair, capturing her in this moment, half-curled up in her bed, clutching her phone, her eyes glittering still from tears, some still on her lashes, as she laid there, pictured in her misery, aching from something she couldn’t have in the dark, clutching her chest or pillow, clutching her head—this image would turn her into a laughing stock if her friends knew.
Society, society, society—that’s all that echoed.
The ever-watching eye of society, judging her at every turn, nitpicking, maybe even sentencing her to some unfathomable fate of some unexplainable law, some unspoken rule. Not thin enough; too thin, eat more. Don’t diet; why aren’t you on a diet? Breasts too big, too slutty; breasts too small, no one wants you. Cute; homely, dumb. Be a strong woman; don’t worry your pretty little head.
She told herself she didn’t care; people told her not to care—yet she cared anyway despite everything. And she cried anyway, attacking herself every night in her room, on her own. Attacking her deepest parts, her weaknesses. Her flaws.
Don’t indulge! Don’t be selfish!! But you deserve better! You need to be more selfish!!
Smile more; you don’t need to smile if you don’t want to!
Mixed messages, mixed messages; they’re the only messages she gets at all. No one texts her.
No one cares, probably.
She had a friend she could talk too, and she trusted her; but at the same time, she didn’t want to both her. It was four a.m. in the morning, anyway—four-ten, now. Where did all that time go?
Why was it so cold…?
She shivered. It hurt—her heart beat, pounded; her palm shot with pain—yet did she deserve it?
Maybe she did. She wasn’t perfect.
She hated this city, this country. She loved that she could be alone; she hated that she was alone.
She loved the safety, the low crime rate; she hated how hurting someone’s heart wasn’t a crime. Being a LGBT was wrong to people; yet the people say they were fine with them (as long as it wasn’t their own children.) Everything was wrong, and she hated that. But at least she was alone; but she hated that.
Why was she alone?
She probably deserved to be single forever. She deserved to never feel romantic love.
She should deny herself that. She should quit.
But it hurt—but wasn’t that what she wanted? She wanted to quit; subconsciously she knew she wanted to hurt herself—and her heart ached.
She felt cold; and her skin felt lonely. No one had touched it in months. No one had cared to touch her. They probably didn’t even see her as human.
Maybe she deserved so—jab at herself, stab!
It was stabbing herself over and over, like using a sledgehammer and crushing every bit of herself night after night. Crush her head, crush her toes, hammer her chest, her ribs; she must not exist!
If only she could die painlessly. But at the same time, she didn’t want to die—she just didn’t want to live this life.
Would society say it is selfish? Probably.
Flaw! Flaw! Crush herself—More! More!
But, in the end, something broke within her—her floodgates fell apart; everything came rushing out.
She pressed her face to her bed, to her sheets, her pillows. She thought of suffocating herself, choking herself; but couldn’t, it was only a thought. She felt herself fall, she imagined her falling from the illusory, imaginary grace she pictured, falling as everyone up above jeered and laughed at her. Maybe she deserved to stay here, at rock bottom.
Maybe then she wouldn’t be disappointed. Maybe then she would feel better. But no, it was only worse.
Why couldn’t she stop thinking? Why couldn’t she fall asleep? Why couldn’t she just sleep forever?
She didn’t want to die—was there an afterlife? Or not? Was there hell? Is it right to have left? Or was she doomed?
She had evidence, she couldn’t see it anymore. But what if?
What if? What if?
It scared her. Death. She just wanted to sleep. If it was possible, forever, for an eternity.
She didn’t want to see. She wanted darkness.
She wanted to embrace the void of sleep; a sleep devoid of all dreams, of fabrications. She just wanted to go off into the deep, dark nothing and sleep.
But she couldn’t—why couldn’t she? Damn it…
She searched things on her phone, opened up the Google App, running Google Chrome if she had to—she searched things, she searched her thoughts.
How to die painlessly, what did being single feel like, how does being single affect you, will I be single forever, when will I die, how will I die, how to get rid of want for romance, how to quit romance?
Reddit, Quora, articles, quizzes, tests—she tried everything, read everything.
Heartbreaking stories, painful stories, cries for help, people just trying to be positive—she fed it all to herself. And it hurt.
It hurt, but she kept on doing it to herself?
Was she a masochist? She searched that (she only found porn.) Did she have a masochistic personality disorder? She found a Wikipedia page about it. Did she have Impostor Syndrome? Depression?
She tried everything—but which one did she have and why did she have it?
Touch deprivation? Affection deprivation? She didn’t know.
What’s sure as hell was that this city didn’t care. Therapy sessions cost so much, and she didn’t have money. She’d read that poverty or monetary issues can cause mental illness, that people going through those fiscal problem have higher risks—but wasn’t that a paradox? Some cyclical, cynical circle?
Poverty causes mental illness, which denies them access to therapy (which is only recommended,) and so they dwell with their problems, causing problems at work, which causes more poverty, and thus more mental issues.
She hated that—and she didn’t want to go to the church anymore.
There’s free counselling there; but she despised the place now.
She couldn’t bear to hear their doctrines, anymore. She was tired of it, sick of it.
Why was she thinking of this? What time was it? It’s four-thirty. It’s morning, it’s morning…
She’d wet her sheets in her tears. It was cold, and her heart ached.
It’s as if her heart was hungry for something…
She touched her skin, caressed her thighs, but it didn’t make her feel any better.
She hugged her pillow, but it didn’t soften the pain stabbing her chest. She tried caressing her ears, caressing her chest, the way she saw in manga; but it only made her heart ache even more. She wanted real human connection, but she couldn’t.
She couldn’t compromise, didn’t know how to; she didn’t know if she could treat her partner well, if she could even trust her partner not to cheat—all of them recipes for disaster; signs she’ll be single for life, according to one article.
And she attacked all this every night. Her weakest points. Points she couldn’t believe were her weakest.
Was it right for her to want someone like this?
Was it right for a woman to wish for romance in this way? Do teens have the right for romance?
Why did her mother say they didn’t? Why was dating banned in school? Was her mother right?
She felt dizzy. She wanted someone she could be closest to. She wanted intimacy…
Right then, raising her head from her pillow, she saw her phone lying beside her where she left it. Just then, she realized her phone was her only friend. And they’d been together for two years now.
Picking up her phone, she held it close to her chest. She felt its warmth, as small as her phone may be.
It was something. And her phone was probably the only thing that understood her best.
Holding it close, she closed her ears.
All the while, tears ran down her chest, and slowly, she fell asleep.
It was five a.m. And the world was beginning to awake. Her phone was her only best friend.