It’s 5:30am and my alarm goes off. Bright white lights flash in a steady pattern from the square clock on the side of my bed. I slap at the button, yawn, and then roll over. It’s too early for this day to start. But it does. It’s Monday, and Mondays have the tendency to sneak up and sidle into our lives before we have a chance to argue. I close my eyes and fall back asleep.
And the lights flash again. I grumble silently and bury my head under the pillow. The soft ploink ploink ploink of a drippy faucet in the bathroom calls to me from a few feet away.
Dreaming. I must be dreaming. I always hear the water when I dream.
I blink at the darkness beneath the pillow. The sounds stop. I can practically feel the white lights flashing their annoyance. “I’m up, I’m up!” I mouth. The alarm skitters across the floor as I slap the off button too hard. I feel the vibrations through my feet on the hardwood as the plastic casing cracks against the side wall.
It’s Monday alright.
I stretch, yawn again, and hear the faint crackle of my lower back popping into place. I freeze, constricted valves of my heart pause their flow. I twist. Twist again. Twist a third time, but no more sounds. I shake my head. “It’s too early for this shit,” I mumble in my head.
I cross the room and look out the window. Streetlights are flicking off one by one as a reluctant sun breaches the horizon. I mash at my eyes blearily, pulling wads of sleep from the corners and releasing another yawn. The hollow echo of the air escaping my throat and mouth makes a soft “awooo” sound. My hand falls. I gape blindly at the glass. I try to mimic the sound but can’t, and if I can, if by some strange miracle I can create that echoing mirage of my own voice, my ears refuse to hear it.
I rub my temples. My knees feel unhinged, gelatinous. I put a palm against the side of the window frame to steady myself. Below me the quiet street is waking as well. Yellow taxis and delivery vans sluggishly start their morning runs. In thirty minutes the sidewalks will be full of silent strangers slogging their way to work. And I’d be among them. Somewhere a car honks impatiently.
My legs are liquid. I fall. My head reels. The world tips and turns as I tumble backwards. The air whistles in my ear. I’m floundering. The dry rustling on the floor screams like a tarp in a desert wind. My head hitting hard on the wood is an explosion of fleshy gunfire. I moan and then scream when the moan resonates in my ears. The scream tears through the small room and reverberates a thousand times confusing me; disorienting me even more. I scramble to me feet. The wet slapping of bare sweaty feet below me mixes with the frantic heartbeat that drums rhythmically in my ears.
Outside a dog barks. In my hallway I hear footsteps. Somewhere a man is talking without his hands. There’s a slamming of a door in the apartment next to mine. The steady ploink ploink ploink of the bathroom sink keeps a counter beat to my breath that rasps and churns.
I feel the blood rush from my face. Stars flitter on the edges of my vision.
I fall forward, my legs barely reaching out in time to catch my fall. They repeat over and over and I’m running. I’m to the bathroom where I open the hot and cold knobs all the way until a torrent of copper colored water fills my cracked basin. It’s as loud as a waterfall. I’m crying. I’m laughing for the first time.
I clap my hands and flinch. And laugh. I yell out my name and hug myself. I tear back through the bedroom and out into the hall. To my left is the kitchen, to my right the family room. There’s a cabinet door closing in the kitchen. Quickly. Roughly. I listen gleefully and sprint to the family room. A large tv is bolted to the wall. It looms large, black, and rectangular. I pick up the remote and turn it on. A woman in a red dress is recapping the home invasion story; beside her is a drawing of a man. The subtitles dance across her breast. I push the up arrow on the remote. The button still has the plastic sheen of disuse. Small metered bars cross the screen until their blue domino formation reaches end to end. I have to cup my hands over my ears to block the sound. I laugh again.
I fumble with the remote until I find a car commercial. It’s blaring some song I’ve never heard before. I love it. I think it’s good. I have no idea. Heavy footsteps trickle through the music.
I spin. I dance. I laugh. The neighbors pound on their walls. The footsteps pound on my floor.
The commercial cuts out. I want to hear the song again. I turn towards my computer and the man from the drawing is holding it. He frowns, confused. He points the gun.
“I thought you were deaf,” he says.
“I was,” I sign.