The Witching Hour

Submitted into Contest #167 in response to: Set your story inside a character’s mind, literally.... view prompt

1 comment

American Contemporary

This is my mind. Or more specifically this is my mind at three in the morning swirling in the worst case scenarios of everything. And while I painfully lay here in waiting, waiting on those churning waters of dream to take me back, (my body falling in slow motion into the splashing pool), this is where we are, in darkness of mind and bedroom. A reality that is one part haunting, another part misery and dread. My thoughts are examining each minute detail of the previous waking life where all my problems and worries now seem plausible, insurmountable and awful. 

There is no lightness here, just this dead feeling that feels so real and vivid it's impossible to imagine it not being so. I will not get that promotion. All the promises that have been made will end in some explanation of budgets and the foreseeable future. My ex will take the kids to Disneyland for a long weekend, and then purposely drive the truck she can’t afford off a cliff just before she runs out of gas. I’ll never see them again. I’ll spend the rest of my life childless wishing I had never agreed to a vasectomy. Haven’t I been a terrible father anyway? Was it not possible to keep that miserable household from collapsing?  The only thing left for me is what lies at the bottom of a long fall from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Is it the witching hour? Is this when the devil plays? The time when the demons take hold of the human mind and contort it at will. I don’t think I believe in such things, but they must call it the witching hour for some reason. I try my hardest to push the awfulness away, Imagining instead a garden where I press my bare feet into soft gravel, the feeling of the cool stones on my soles. Sunshine in the distance, a sunrise of pink and red, disintegrating the purple and black night that it sheds from. But night flickers in like a switching light. And I see the ghouls of uncertainty and confusion, showing their faces once more. 

But aren’t I a good father? Aren’t I a good man and partner? Why do I feel like I’ve failed? I've been making headway in the machine of life. Career moves that improve my standard of living. I’ve moved on from my ex life and live alone and see my children. I'm not the best at grocery shopping but I’m getting better at providing for them. And with the new love in my life I’m finding once again the capacity for romance, something that I had forgotten I could be; romantic.  

I breathe in and replace these thoughts with the truth. I am a good father. Doesn’t every good father want to spend time with their children? Doesn’t a good father fight to see them? Tries his hardest to be there for them? To learn? To be better? And doesn’t a good man do what he must to survive? To budget, to be wise in his doings, to stop drinking so much, to limit the poisons and toxic behaviors that deem him a toxicity and degenerate? And don’t I try to listen better and give what is desired of me to my love? Don’t I try even when I fail again and again? 

I am not awful. I am not unwanted or unneeded. I am loved and I know how to love. 

Is it the darkness that culls one to think such horrible things? Is it the hour that pulls the mind into the Devil's grip? What is it about this time of night that the mind surges with these flooding thoughts? This landscape of doubt, of unstable ground, cracking and splitting beneath the foot, where a wrong step can bring one into a crevasse of thought that is unavoidably trapping, sucking, swallowing. 

The only relief from this hold of darkness is the revelation of sunshine that will eventually show itself come morning. When suddenly the black sea of night is swept away by the rays of a new day. And it's for this new hour that I lay in wait, swatting at the bats of nightmare, until I finally fall asleep. 

It is in dream where I awake next. I have transformed into my dream self. A being much like my waking identity but built up by different experiences, the ones that have come to be in this strange world of the sleeping mind. And here in this unusual place where the unimaginable is mundane, and the fantastical is every day, I put the pieces together. It is here that I can come to terms with the happenings of the previous day. It is here that I can be restored of my failures and learn what must be learnt to be a better person in the coming day. In the new life that begins when my eyes open after a night’s rest. Even if I don’t recall exactly what went on in the dream, the lessons are learned, the body is restored, the mind coalesces into a slightly new thing. I am more complete. I am more whole. I am more aware. 

Finally, the new day emerges from the curve of the twirling sphere in sheets of black. My mind wakes from the dark of my lids. Slowly opening against a piercing ray of light on its journey from our star through the crack of curtain at my window. The darkness is gone. The Devil has receded back to where it came, surly tormenting some billions of souls on the other side of the spinning Earth. Bringing doubt and sadness into the hearts of others. 

I rise, and in my mind, here in this place now full of truth, I know who I am. I am a father, a good father. I am a man, one who desires to advance in all things that will bring love and good to those who surround me. I am a partner, one that will always do his best to listen and be present. I am full now, full of reassurance that I am on the right path. 

October 15, 2022 00:42

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1 comment

Mike Stanthom
02:23 Oct 20, 2022

I like the elements you used to portray the thoughts we all have at 3am! I struggled a little to get into this one though, but I know it's a preference thing. I kept waiting for "something" to happen, but I read it as a story of reflection/dreams and more of what the character wants to happen. Some good things in it that got me to the end, as in I wanted to see the conclusion and where the character would be when waking up!


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