The All-Nighter by Elizabeth Kate Switaj

Kayla thew her head down and pressed her tear ducts. Why had the eyedrops started to sting so much? Overuse?

She sat down at her desk again, opened and closed a book without noticing which one she had picked up, and glanced over her printed paper without reading it. Her alarm clock said 4:01, her laptop 4:02. A month ago, she would have been able to see the first hints of light in the sky; now, she kept her drapes closed. She needed to sleep, but it was too late. The first four hours were for nightmares now, and she needed to be in class by eight.

The alarm would wake her up. She’d tremble, maybe cry out. If she was lucky, she wouldn’t remember his weight pressing her down. In dreams it broke her bones, burst lung, heart, liver . . . No, Kayla, don’t think about that. Pour more coffee from the French press.

His hand burst out of the dark brew. She dropped her mug and scalded her thighs but hardly noticed that pain for the roughness of his hand against her mouth and the taste of blood as her lips were pushed back against her screaming teeth.

Kayla lifted her head from the desk and slammed the alarm off. She shivered in the boiling shower. But she made it to class on time and turned in her essay. He’d taken her nights. She would never let him have the day.

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Filed under Elizabeth Kate Switaj

7 responses to “The All-Nighter by Elizabeth Kate Switaj

  1. Al McDermid

    Great, positive ending for such a frightening tale. And you captured that ‘it’s 4am, why am I not asleep?’ feeling so well.

  2. Giving the amount of experience I’ve had with that feeling, I’d better be able to capture; otherwise, I’d suspect myself of being incapable of writing anything well at all.

  3. And by giving, I mean given. And by “to capture”, I mean “to capture it”. (I think I need some sleep ;-))

  4. Awesome. Simply awesome. Especially her attitude in the end. Very well done.

  5. Love how she’s unable to control her nightmares (who can, after all?), but refused to let her abuser take her days. Very empowering. Peace…

  6. Pingback: Week #15 – Sleep « 52|250 A Year of Flash

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