Marlene wasn’t getting any sleep. She had tried therapeutic yoga positions, and when that hadn’t worked, resorted to sleeping pills. However, today was her fifth day in a row of chronic insomnia, and she was starting to become aware of the fact that she was taking many more doses than the recommended amount.

       As such, she dragged her weary body beneath the stiff hotel sheets, knowing that she wouldn’t get a wink of sleep. As Marlene stared up at the gloomy ceiling, she began wondering if it would be best to confront the problem at its source. Because, part of the problem was that whenever she closed her eyes, a vivid image of him would show up in full color, and her eyelids would snap right back open.

       Him. He was the reasoning that she was lying awake tonight, and the previous nights as well. Her coworkers had started to notice, and though Marlene thought she was doing a rather good job of concealing it, rumors were starting to spread. After all, Marlene was a married woman. Words of an affair were starting to circulate, and she was often aware of the slanted glances she received every now and then. An affair? She scoffed. If only it were that simple.

       It was true: the “him” in question was not her husband. But, it absolutely was not an affair either. Because the smiling man that haunted her every waking moment, and every non-waking moment for that matter, was her very own brother.

       Josiah had cared for her all his life, the best kind of big brother one could ask for. So when she received the call (Marlene shuddered at the memory), her entire body had been racked with fear. A car accident! She knew that the highways were more dangerous here than average, and that hundreds of people got into these accidents a month, but those numbers had always seemed detached from her. Nothing more than statistics. She had never considered that her family would ever be one of the victims.

       Yes, it was the farthest things away from an affair. Her husband was actually one of the most supporting people in this crisis, and they had scrambled to scrape together what little money they had for the hospital bills. But as Josiah’s condition worsened, and increasingly expensive machinery was forced to be used on him, it soon became clear that neither Marlene nor her husband would have enough money to pay for the costs.

       They had no insurance of any kind. They were living paycheck-to-paycheck as things were, and as mentioned before, Marlene was not the kind of person to think in the long-term. “Car accidents probably will never happen”, she had thought, and left it at that.

       And so, Marlene began a desperate search for ways to earn quick money. Her efforts were near fruitless, until they brought her near a seedy district close to her work office. Among the hooded men and reeking women, she had found a chance to earn that money.

      It was illegal, sure. But compared to the other way she could earn money… Marlene’s hand unconsciously wavered over her pelvis. No, then that would be worse than an affair. So she had no other choice then, she’d have to go with the first option. She arranged for a meeting with the “boss”, and after a few days, was quickly put to work.

      As Marlene continued to ponder this, she turned her head on her uncomfortable pillow, and saw that the sky was starting to lighten. She would have to start delivering in a few hours. With a sigh, she turned away, trying not to look at the black duffel bag on the side of her bed. Trying to forget all about it, along with the tiny bags of powdery yellow wrapped in plastic, stuffed into the bottom of the duffel bag.

      But as she squeezed her eyes tightly shut, Josiah’s face sprang up behind her eyelids. That endearing smile, his twinkling eyes, full of energy. At this, Marlene’s fist tightened, so hard she could feel her fingernails digging into her palms. Just you wait, Josiah. I’ll be the one to bring you back to how you were before, so…  Marlene curled up into herself, her heart throbbing. Just hang on. Just a little longer.

      Yet another sleepless night passed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *