She moved to put her crumpled clothes in the hamper, moved slowly, treating herself like a glass puppet, delicate and ungainly. Last night’s jeans were sandy and smelled mildly of rotting. She dropped them back to the floor, feeling completely unequipped to deal with beach water and muck.
Instead she pulled on a tank top and cut off sweats and drifted out to the living room. The room was dim, all of the blinds turned against the day, even in the kitchen, normally the sunniest room in the house. She went to the refrigerator and considered a glass of orange juice, but instead stood squinting against the cold light, waiting for yesterday to disentangle from her dreams. The cool air prickled the skin on her legs and she absentmindedly rubbed her calves together soothingly, balanced on one foot. She let the door close with a soft sigh, opting instead for tap water. She drank from the kitchen tap, hand cupping the water to her mouth, her mouth passively receiving the water and swallowing slowly, feeling the cold trickle down her throat and fill her stomach.
She still felt an unplaced dread and a blank in her night that refused to fill in. She kept expecting the memories to fill in like eyesight recovering from the black of standing too suddenly, first spotty around the edges and dizzy, but clearing to normalcy. Absently she reached for the blinds, twisting the rod to allow in more light. As the room lightened, her fog increased. She squinted against the brightness. The tree branches outside the window did not do enough to filter the light, the twigs instead pointing, accusing, guiding the solar rays like infiltrating assassins through her window, stabbing behind her eyes suddenly and throbbingly.
She retreated from the kitchen, exploring her apartment for comfort, but everything looked strange, a little unfamiliar, like a bearded friend who has just shaved, or a sighted friend in glasses, eyes suddenly hidden and shielded. She was fully awake now, awake enough to begin to feel nervous about last night. She knew something happened. She knew something important happened, but the grey would not lift.
A full minute passed while she stood frozen in her living room, arms clutched around her middle, staring at her couch, her throw pillows, a rumpled and cozy afghan, laptop sitting on the coffee table, cord snaked to a convenient outset, power light its throbbing heart.
Suddenly impatient, bored with her anxiety, she popped into action. In the dim light her headache was gone. The water was not sloshing, but felt as though it had already swept through her system, plumping her veins, hydrating her fingertips. She returned to the bathroom, first pulled her hair into a ponytail then knotted the bag liner, pulling it free from the small plastic can. She walked to the front door and stepped into a pair of sandals sitting on the entry way tile, unlocked and opened the door and walked out to the brighter landing. She navigated the stairs with eyes lightly cracked, lids sleepy, not squinting. She walked the long hallway to the back entrance and stepped out into the alleyway and dropped her bag into the bin.
As soon as the lid dropped the enormity of the sky reached down like a hand and grabbed her behind her solar plexus. She pinned, targeted, exposed, like every invisible bit of air was full of eyes and hands, and suddenly she was the center of attention. Under the spotlight, or the point of light under the magnifying glass. With an immense surge of will she snapped her eyes shut and scurried back into her building. She navigated the hallway and stairs at a blind jog, almost falling on her landing when her feet ran out of stairs before her feet stopped climbing. Then she was back on the other side of her door, bolt thrown, but the scrutiny and ill will persisted and the unknown of the previous night rose up like a faint and everything went black.