Night Terrors

"Nothing's gonna harm you, not while I'm around..."

Last night, I spent four and a half hours walking around downtown, from around 10:30pm to 3:15am.  I saw groups of guys walking around, riding skateboards, screaming, and at one point I even thought they were yelling at me.  The cops picked some of them up, and I was afraid they would pick me up, too.

After all, I had been aimlessly walking for hours.

I almost wanted something to shake me out of my funk.  I wanted my heart to beat hard, adrenaline to pump my veins, tears threaten to spill down my cheeks...  I wanted to run.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to stand on the top of a building and scream triumph out to the world.

Am I selfish?  Maybe.

"Nothing's gonna harm you, no sir, not while I'm around..."

Despite all the assurances in my life, despite every person around me telling me over and over that I'm worth it, I'm loved––why is it never enough?

Why can't I believe those words?  Because maybe, maybe I hear them whispered in the dark, in tunnels, spoken through lying lips by people who want to trap me.  Maybe I'm like Toby*, giving love out to people and promising to protect them, hoping I'll get the same in return––when in reality, someone is just waiting to kill me.

No, no, no.  It isn't true.  It isn't true.  The girl sits in the bathtub, trying to breathe, trying not to drown.  It's okay, it's okay, she whispers.  Let it go, she tells her trembling fingers as they refuse to obey her.

What is it like, living this strange nightlife?  What is it like, living with the knowledge that people come into your life and then drop you when they discover more interesting things?  What is it like, knowing you have f*cked several friends up alongside yourself, and for that you won't ever be forgiven?

The mirror is hazy.  She washes her hands frantically, trying to calm herself down.  She hears her friends out in the living room, laughing, talking, having fun.  Relax, she whispers.  It's okay.  But it's not.  She knows it's not because there are tears on her cheeks.  It's 1:30am, and there's no one she can call to talk to.  Shaking, she wipes her face and leaves the bathroom. 

I'll tell you what it is like.  It's going for a five hour walk in the dark hours of the morning in the middle of downtown.  It's leaning up against a building at 3:00am, trying not to fall asleep, but not wanting to go home and be alone.

It's watching cars slow down when they see you, and wondering if you should run, or stay where you are and take your chances.  It's loving the beat of your heart against your chest when you're scared because that means you're alive.

It's wanting to scream.  It's wanting to write words with blood.  It's wanting to create something out of pain.  It's wanting to give love, and receive love in return.  And not just receive it, but feel worth receiving that love.

It's wanting to lose all the guilt you carry inside your chest like a suffocating weight that punishes you any time you start to feel happy.

It's 2:30am.  A cop car slowly circles the block.  The girl stays where she is, leaning up against a brick building.  If the car picks her up, what can they do?  She isn't breaking any laws.  She is tired, but her mind is alive, alive, alive.

Artists are cursed, I guess.  They are the dreamers.  The plagued.  The gifted.  The shunned.

But with our demons, we create art, do we not?  For dusk belongs to the creatures of the night, and an artist is such a creature.

-An Artist

**Toby from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.  
     What can I say?  I'm a BFA Major.

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