Originally posted here, in response to the prompt: “The darkness holding me tightly / Until the sun rises up.” Faint shades of Cali, but rather faint.
Night had never felt so safe as it did in her little cubbyhole, so wrapped-in-cotton, so silent, and so entirely entrapping. Nothing could get to her, locked in her tiny, dark room, in her bunk with no sharp edges. She couldn’t even hurt herself, folded into the pod-bed as she was; there was nothing to use as a weapon, even her fingernails trimmed down, pretty and pink-painted and dull.
It was so soft and so surreal, the sheets so smooth as to have no texture at all, the bed like a hammock, sucking her in, that even emotions couldn’t seem to get through. There was the moment of panic, every time the pod closed, and then nothing but soft, comforting peace. Darkness wrapped around her with soft velvet fingers, and carried her in to sleep.
Only when the sun rose did her pod open, and only when her pod opened did she wake, and only then, with the sunlight trickling in through the windows high above, brushing over the long racks of pods, did she begin to fear again. Only when the overseer came, to hand out the day’s clothing ration, the day’s breakfast, did she find herself allowed to remember where she was, and only as her bare feet hit the cold concrete floor did she recall, for the briefest moment, who she had been before.
The sun may have been her friend, once upon a time, but here, it was an enemy. When the daylight shone, implacable on her chafed and chapped skin, she worked, she and all the others, the others she didn’t dare think too hard about. When the sun was in the sky, there was pain, and fear, and exhaustion that never seemed to end. Only when the darkness wrapped around her was there peace; only when the night held her close could she relax.
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