Navigating the Dark

You wake. It’s dark, but you know you’re in an unfamiliar room.

Was I asleep?

You pat your hands on the bed covers. They’re hard, heavy. Like your grandmother’s old quilts, not the down comforter cloud you favor.

It’s so dark.

Your eyes don’t adjust and no shapes or forms emerge.

Is there a lamp?

You lean to one side, but the bed goes on and on, beyond your reach.

You lean to the other. Quilt and mattress for miles.

You crawl towards the foot and reach. Bed. More bed.

Then back to the pillows.

Weren’t there pillows?

Your motions become frantic as you search the darkness for your pillow. When you pause, panting now, you’re not sure which way you’re facing. Where is the header? The footer? The sides?

You always preferred the left side of the bed, but you gave it up because he did too.

You sit up, call his name in the dark. Your voice falls like a thud, muffled in the darkness of quilt and endless bed. No echo. No resonance. No one else.

You fumble for something to throw, to test the space. Your fingers find nothing, nothing but the heavy cover you can’t collect because it stretches endlessly. Heavy.

You’re not made for this darkness. Yet you know you must adapt, even if only to find the light.

You collapse against the dark firm mattress and pull the quilt to your quivering chin. Tears won’t help. You wipe the moisture from your face with the edge of the quilt.

The edge!

Head, foot, sides! This is one edge!

You sit up and tug on the edge, heavy, resistant. You tug from the left, then the right. Equally stubborn. But you’re holding the edge, an edge that might lead to a corner, another edge.

You stand, wobbling on the mattress, but the heaviness of the quilt brings you to your knees.

I’ll crawl along the edge.

Which way? You panic a moment.

I prefer the left side.

Then you begin. A crawling journey, your right hand sliding along the edge of the quilt, in search for another edge. Maybe you’ll bump into a lamp, fall off the dark bed. Into the light. You push your knees through the dark toward something more. Meaning? Answers that are neither promised or predictable?

Nothing is certain. But moving through stills your quivering chin and quiets the air that pumps through your lungs.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2021

Originally published at on October 6, 2021.




Louisiana-based author of women’s fiction and sci-fi and World Languages editor.

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Pennie A Nichols

Pennie A Nichols

Louisiana-based author of women’s fiction and sci-fi and World Languages editor.

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