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Eternal Night

As Told To Temima Shain

Black. Everything is black. What I need to do is turn over and go back to sleep. I belong in this bed, in this darkened bedroom, in this blackness. But you have to daven. But to daven means to get up, and getting up is not an option. I need to stay right here. But you have to daven. I don’t want to daven, but I have no choice. It’s a chiyuv. I pull together all the strength I don’t have. I am sitting up. Don’t stop. I grab the light fixture next to my bed and pull myself to the edge of the mattress.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


window dark

The porcelain sink in the bathroom stares up at me — an unbroken, unrelenting, gleaming whiteness. I turn away from the brightness. My eyes lock on the reflection in the mirror. The young woman in the mirror is alive. Must be alive, because there are eyes, and eyes are alive. But it can’t be; there is no life inside me. Everything is so confusing.

I stand in the bathroom, avoiding the sink, avoiding the mirror, trying to stable myself, when I see my brush. My brush. That someone else has used. Long orange strands, the exact color of my sister Shaindy’s hair, still clinging to the silver bristles.

A black rage fills me, expands through my being, explodes across the bathroom. How dare she use my brush without asking! No one respects my things! No one respects me! All at once, everything is bad, unbearable. I can’t stand this, can’t stand anything. I sink down to the cold bathroom floor, sink down into the blackness inside of me.

But I have to get up. I have to daven. Just go through the motions. Negel vasser. Brachos. Shacharis. Just do it. Then you can go back to sleep. Words of prayer leave my lips, all rote, all mechanics. I put the siddur down, crawl into bed, cover my head, and slip back into sleep.


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