It was impossible. No one could stay awake forever. But that didn’t stop Lily from fighting to keep her eyes open. She had already splashed water on her face half a dozen times. And she’d consumed so much coffee she was sure her liver would never fully recover. She was running out of steam and she knew it, but damned if she was going to go gently.
She stumbled to the bathroom and splashed cold water on her face again. Then she stared at her haggard reflection in the mirror and tried to think of something interesting to say to herself. All she could manage was: “Holy crap, do you ever look tired.”
Lily shot her reflection a dirty look and staggered back into the living room. She sat on the sofa and tried pinching her arms, but she was so exhausted her body no longer registered the pain. Or was that because she was already asleep? She glanced around the room. Nothing looked strange or out of place. Just to be sure, Lily grabbed a book from the coffee table and dropped it on the floor. It fell quickly, landing with a proper thud. Satisfied that the laws of physics were still intact, she leaned back against the cushions and tried to think of another way to maintain wakefulness.
She tried to remember how long she’d been awake. Was it two days now? Or three? After the first 30 hours, time had kind of blurred into itself.
Just then, a shadow moved in Lily’s peripheral vision. She snapped her head in its direction, but there was nothing there.
Must have been the cat, she thought and then felt her feet go cold when her brain reminded her she didn’t have a cat.
Slowly, she pulled a cushion from behind her back and dropped it to the floor. It crashed like an anvil, splintering the hardwood and leaving a gaping hole as it plummeted through the floor into the apartment below.
For the first time in days, Lily closed her eyes.
When she opened them, she was sitting on the floor of the maintenance closet. It was dark and smelled strongly of bleach and despair. Lily pulled her knees up to her chest and waited.
She heard the footsteps first, then the voices. The closet door swung open. Nurse Cindy’s silhouette loomed in the doorway.
“You’re late for breakfast,” she said, gesturing at an orderly, who reached down and pulled Lily to her feet.
“We were starting to think we’d lost you,” Nurse Cindy said as she marched down the hall, brisk as business.
Lily was escorted to the dining room, where her cold breakfast was waiting along with her morning pills.
“Chop, chop,” said Nurse Cindy. “Dr. Edwards is waiting to see you.”
With a sigh, Lily knocked back her pills and picked up a piece of cold toast.
Next time, she thought, I’ll get it right next time.
Thankfully, it was impossible to stay awake forever.
This is my submission for this week’s Speakeasy challenge #102.
This week, in honour of the Speakeasy’s 100th Anniversary celebrations, submissions must be under 500 words and must begin with the following line:
It was impossible.
In addition, submissions must reference the photo prompt, which is the following image: