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  • Writer's picturemarikenney


The night was never safe for Ava. It was too quiet. Too long. She had too much time to think. Ava didn't like to think.

She sat on the edge of the hotel bed and chewed on the skin around her nails. Her left foot nervously tapped up and down as her leg scratched against the rough fibers of the synthetic comforter.

She stood and walked barefoot to the front window and looked out. Charlie's beat up Subaru wasn't there. She turned and checked the bright digital clock on the bed stand. It was 2:35 a.m., Charlie told her he would be there by 11:00.

"I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this." She repeated.

It was the only way to keep her thoughts in check. She tried to learn how to control them, but nothing had been successful, until she met Charlie.

She pulled at a strand of her greasy, unwashed hair and twirled it around her finger. She checked the clock again.

2:36 a.m.

"I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this." She sputtered.

She turned from the window and walked back to her perch on the edge of the bed. She leaned over and picked up the hotel phone yet again. She held it to her ear and dialed Charlie's number.

The phone rang on the other end.

"I can do this."


"I can do this."


"I can do this."


"I can do this."


"I can do this."


Charlie had hung up on her. Like he had twenty times before. She replaced the receiver, stood up, and paced the tiny hotel room, and made sure not to look at herself in any of the mirrors. Mirrors tended to amplify her thoughts. As she paced, she became tired, and she knew she couldn't sleep without Charlie.

She had met Charlie in high school. Charlie wasn't a student. He had graduated five years prior but liked to hang out and sell them drugs. Ava was only 15 when she asked if Charlie had anything that could help control her thoughts, Charlie laughed and said, "Of course." Since then, Ava had been relying on Charlie to help control her frenetic imagination.

"I can do this. I can do this. I can do -" A sob burst from her, and tears streamed down her face. She felt the edges of her mind start to itch. She had to continue.

"I... I c..c..can do this. I can do this. I can do this." Her voice shook.

She ran to the phone again, and dialed Charlie's number, this time no ring only, "We're sorry this number is no longer in-"

She slammed the phone down and returned to her pace. Her body ached and her eyes blurred. She felt the reins of her mind slip.

In front of her a black dot appeared.

"No, no, no, no." She turned away from it and ran to the bathroom and locked herself in.

"Don't think. Don't think. Don't think." She opened the cheap, plastic curtain and stepped inside the stained bathtub. She sat down and pulled her bruised knees up and wrapped her emaciated arms around them. She rocked back and forth.

"Don't think. Don't think. Don't think." An image of her father flashed in her mind.

Outside, the dot grew larger.

She tried to push the thought away, but she was weak. She hadn't slept or eaten anything in three days. She couldn't. She had been waiting on Charlie.

She heard the familiar dull drone outside the bathroom door and knew it wouldn't be much longer. As she rocked, the noise gained strength. Outside the dot had grown to the size of a basketball and pulled at the reality of the hotel room.

Inside the bathroom, Ava continued her chant, but again a flash of her father jumped to mind.

She felt the room shake and the dull drone amplify. There wasn't anything she could do now. Ava stood up and moved to the bathroom door. She pressed her ear up against the door and heard the dot as it ripped and pulled at the cheaply decorated hotel room.

It wouldn't be long before it overtook the whole room. She couldn't fight it anymore. Ava opened the door and saw the black hole staring at her. She had only seen it once before. When her father had been ripped into it years prior. As Ava watched the swirling chaos in front of her, an unhinged giggle escaped her lips.

The dot grew larger and larger as Ava's giggle evolved into a crazed cackle. The black hole of her thoughts pulled at her, and she stopped fighting. She opened her arms, and let herself dissolve into the blackness. And then she and it were gone.

Outside, Charlie knocked.

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