There are many pros and cons to working a graveyard shift. Many of them you would expect, and some depend on perspective. The traffic is rather slow, so you are left with quite a bit of free time to do things you’d like to do. Except you are confined to a very small area. You don’t have to handle quite as much business as your daytime coworkers, but you are often left for almost eight hours without the sound of another human voice, or another human face. You have to make sure to bring whatever you need with you, because if you live in a small town like I do, everything has closed by the time you get to work. Forgot something at home? Oh well. Didn’t bring a lunch? Twinkies for dinner it is, then. Feeling a little lonely? Oh, most of your friends are already asleep. So it’s just you, your entertainment, and the buzz of electrical lights.

Or if you walk outside, you get to hear Sonic Radio. At least, where I work. And no, it’s not 24 hours. Don’t ask me.

I knew most of this when I first began my graveyard shift. Some of it I learned, and I picked up different tricks as I went. I come in loaded down with everything I may, or may not, need. I double everything. Even if I know I don’t need it, I always bring at least two. Better to have too much than not enough, right?

One thing I didn’t expect, however, was how quickly it got to the point where normal means of entertainment just wouldn’t cut it, and how often I would just be spent alone with my own thoughts. At first it wasn’t that big of a deal, I’d usually find something else to entertain myself with. Or I’d clean the lobby obsessively until my bosses started hiding the cleaning supplies from me. And sometimes being trapped inside my own head wasn’t so bad.

I’d imagine my favorite celebrities coming through the door and sweeping me away for a life of fame, glamor, and adventure. I’d picture something bad happening and how I’d magically save the day. I’d play out conversations and other fun or entertaining scenarios that would never happen.

It’s all well and good. Until the nights you’re sad. Or angry. Or feel anything but contentment.

I could feel the start of a low coming on, so I brought my penguin with me to work. He makes me feel better sometimes, and it’s a comfort to have him. I know I get weird looks for having a penguin sitting on the desk behind me, but I don’t care. He’s my comfort object, not yours, nee ner nee ner. But the penguin, as cute as he is, can’t stop the thoughts that go through my head.

I was alone. I am alone. At first, you don’t really think about it. Being physically alone is so much different than being mentally alone. Tonight I felt both. My mind threw every embarrassing situation at me, every horrible mistake I’d ever done, every worst case scenario that could happen.

As my thoughts grew darker, everything I’d held back for years suddenly came rushing back to me. I could feel the lump tightening in my throat, my heart pounded in my chest as I silently fought the inner battle with my demons. I could feel the blood rushing to my face, tears tickling the very edges of my eyes as the torture continued on and on. I started cleaning, as cleaning is sometimes therapeutic. But no, this made the taunts even worse. I could feel my soul screaming in agony, the shadows closing in, and finally when I thought I was going to break I looked up and I saw my reflection.

My cheeks were a darker shade of red. My eyes were red. But my face gave nothing away. I was so stoic, that anyone looking at me would never guess the hell going on inside my head. I was in my head, and I couldn’t tell. You never know what to expect when you look into your own reflection. Many times it is shocking. Tonight was no exception to the rule.

No one could see that lump in my throat, no one could feel the burn of the tears I held back. No one could hear my heart breaking into a thousand pieces, or the taunts that scraped across my mind like glass. My eyes gave me away. They screamed a thousand screams, begging and pleading to let all of this out freely. My thoughts changed to all the words I’d never said, all the things I wish I could say. All that I wish I could do, or could have done in the past. I could not stand to stare at the girl in the reflection any longer, because there was nothing I could do for her silent suffering. I wish I could. I wanted to reach into the reflection and hold her, tell her everything was going to be okay. Force her to see the good she’d done, and all she’d contributed.

But I looked away, and strangely I felt like I’d betrayed myself. So many others look away too because they don’t see it.

I grin, I smile, I laugh. Inside I’m being torn apart and I can’t fix it. I can’t make the demons stop howling, or the skeletons in my closest stop rattling the doors. The ghosts of my memories taunt me from the shadows, luring me further and further into the darkness. Taunting me with relief.

Onwards I go, suffering in silence. I’ll keep that smile on my face, and I’ll laugh at your jokes. I’ll hug you and hold you, make you feel better and tell you everything will be okay. Look into my eyes sometimes, and maybe you’ll see that sometimes that’s all I want too. Sorry for all the word vomit here, I just had to get it out someway or another lol.

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