It was dark.
Celya couldn’t remember the last time she sat awake so long without turning on the lights, or when midnight had last seemed such a deep hour. Her knees were beginning to ache from the tight angle she held them, and she had sat still so long the edges of her arms, hands, fingers had started to blur. She had one hand tightly laced in her daughter’s hand for such a stretch of time that the sensation had sunk deeper than her bones and her mind was beginning to wonder if it felt anything at all. Almost, she wondered if she still had hands, if she asked them to move if she might find that her limbs had faded away while she just tried to breathe.
She couldn’t turn on a light. She wanted to more than she wanted to take her next heartbeat or feel her next breath, but she could not, and she wasn’t sure if it was because she knew what light would bring, or if she simply didn’t have the hands or feet anymore to strike the match, light the wick, replace the glass on the lamp.
Celya couldn’t remember another darkness like this, that hung in curtains around her familiar room and never cleared. She had been blinking into it for hours, waiting for the shadows to clear into the strange gray light eyesight sorted out in the middle of the night. She knew she was staring at her bedpost, at the dresser on the other side of it, and the wall behind that, the shaded corner deepened by the thick curtains on either side of it, the carved door. But she had to blink harder, faster, to see the real edges of them, not the memories she’d memorized.
It was dark. Too dark, and just their breathing was turning to shy sighs sliding sideways into something sinister between the silences. Just their breathing was shaking her.