After midnight

The phone vibrated on the sink, startling me. I lay sweating on the bathroom floor in the dark. A faint halo emanated from the device and illuminated the room. I looked up at the walls, the ceiling. Fire razed my guts. It was night, it was night out there in the world. The phone buzzed. What had I done? I tried to push myself up, hands slipping in the contents of my stomach, now cold. A shot of lightning flashed at the window, briefly illuminating the revolting scene. I rose to my knees, then staggered afoot. My shirt was soaked through. Half-digested tablets and capsules cracked beneath my feet. I stripped nude and lay atop the bed, shaking, my hair wet. I struggled beneath the covers. What I remember next was the smell. I hadn’t smelled it before, or I wasn’t paying attention. It was all over me, all over the room. It was the air itself. I rose from the bed as each cell in my body protested. Daylight attacked the bedroom’s only window. A song entered my head — a Mexican folk song my grandmother sang when I was a child. Then it was only the music of her voice, whispering: I’ll be here when you wake.

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