The painted white bricks were both smooth and bumpy to touch. My other hand was curled beneath my pillow and danced with sparkling galaxies of pain, but there was nothing I could do about it because the cost of relief was the energy required to move it and I wasn’t willing to spend what precious reserves I had. The stars shone with a bilious yellow light and I wanted them gone but I was almost in a trance and unable to do anything about them. My very thoughts were dull and muddy and I’m not sure if I could have moved even if I wanted to; I could have stayed up for hours and I never would’ve switched the stars off. I just lay there wondering why they had to be on all the time. It was the way they burned into my eyes beyond my eyelids, bathing the once-comforting blackness in a dull yellow glow that lingered in my brain like a headache. My brain was so sore. My thoughts had some aspiration; they tried to rise and escape, but they hit the white cinderblock ceiling and came plummeting, bruised and bewildered, down again. Spiraling up and down, tangled, discolored, battered, keeping me awake but sore enough to keep me from thinking clearly or even creatively. I couldn’t rest, and I couldn’t find comfort in even the darkness because of the obtuse, prickly light that left everything dripping and distended with its self-aware semi-brightness.

I was too tired to move the blankets off. I laid in sticky apathy, so bedraggled that I was glad when you came into the room and turned on the heating because my breath was weak and still and the room was mind-bendingly stiller and the rush of hot, humid air forced itself into my weak lungs and provided a temporary escape from my asthmatic breaths. I wasn’t sure then whether you were cold or if you were trying to torment me because my mind was a broken clock that struggled to move forward but was caught in an endless loop of lunging forward and falling backwards, unable to truly process anything with any kind of clarity.


But now I am by myself again and the room is cool and my head rests into the familiar comfort of my own pillows and blankets. The stars are small and wintry now, and they don’t burn into my mind, they glitter austerely down at me. I am thinking clearly now and now I know you’re my sister and you wouldn’t have tried to hurt me. I know that you had just been cold because you had been out all night in the bleak and blurry world that lingered outside dorm windows, a planet that snapped and crackled with snow and excitement and Chicago air and college life. I didn’t think we could have been any further apart when I was semiconscious in the deathly heat of your room and you were wide awake and laughing under your crisp and frosty sky, but now that I am awake and cold and under your stars I feel further from you than ever before.


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