She wishes she had a home.

This place, these walls, all wrapped up in brick, isn’t it; this place is a sickness, one that leaves its toxic marks on her. A miasma of poison lingers in the air that she drags into her lungs with every breath. Its claws rend flesh, leaving bleeding red lines on her body. It leaves her crying and hopeless.

She wants to feel warm. She wants to feel loved and happy. She wants to feel heard.

This house always promised that. Its lies, tempt her back with assurances of fulfilling every childish dream she’d ever had of a happy family, of belonging and being wanted. And she falls for it. Every time she falls for it, always returning, always letting it suck her dry. Only this is the last time. She’s come and gone before, but this time she has nothing else.

So she dies, with every passing hour, every single day that drags on around her, without her. She stays because now she doesn’t have a choice. Her feet have become a part of the wood floors, her hands painted plaster.

She lets it.

It has become a necessity that she let this house eat her whole.

“Fear”

Tick. Tick. Tick.

She is staring at the hands on the old brass alarm clock by her bedside, watching the fragile metal arms as they make their jerky circle around the numbered white face. She needs to move. Just get out of bed. Her alarm went off a half hour ago but she is still laying there, her body a dead weight against the mattress, holding her in place. Trapped. She feels trapped in her own skin, imagines her joints are made of metal and rusted to the point of being immobile, her bones are steel, her skin aluminum. She imagines she was made of brass and gears and cogs grinding together, teeth locking into teeth, making her grind her own in frustration.

She can’t move.

She knows it’s all in her head.

The fear.

Failure.

It waits outside of her bedroom, just outside of her apartment door, stalks her at work, shadows her in class, follows her to her car in the middle of the night, slinking around after her like a cat in the dark.

It is safer here. She pulls her blankets over her head and squeezes her eyes shut. How late was she going to allow herself to be? This shouldn’t be so hard.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Just get out of bed. Her chest starts to feel tight. Just get out of bed. Tears begin to build behind her eyelids and her mouth feels dry. The bitter taste of bile burns the back of her throat.

She is doing this to herself. She knows it, but she cann’t make it stop. She can’t stop herself from repeating this cycle, this little failure in itself, failure to function, to be human, to be normal.

Tick.

Tick.

Tick.

She throws back the covers with a sudden burst of motion and snatches up the clock, tossing it against the wall in one powerful throw. She pushes down the sickness, her jaw clenches as she forces herself to move, to put all of her strength into overcoming the rust and denseness of her limbs. Her feet swing over the edge of the bed, toes touch the floor, and she draws in a deep steadying breath before standing.

Another day. She can make it through one more, then one would turn into two, then three. Another week. Another year. A lifetime.