Her eyes opened slowly as she stretched the stiffness out of her lower back and legs. Such a simple gesture that felt so satisfying. As she slowly swung her legs over, sat up and slid out of bed to head for the shower, the woman never registered it had been many months (or had it been many years?) that her days began in a vastly different way; that the initial moments of consciousness were filled with a dread that began in her chest and slithered through her entire body leaving her laden on the mattress burdened with the weight of a beached whale. The first feelings after awakening felt instinctual and sickening, forcing her to roll herself onto her stomach and bury all she was into her pillow, afraid to face the light lurking outside her darkened room or the unwanted glimpse of the illuminated hour on the clock instilling more guilt because she knew it was not possible yet to force herself up. She would silently plead for sleep to take over again, wiping away time, light and the sinking weight that left her powerless. How was it possible for her not to notice the drastic change as she went through her morning, performing rituals that usually took place in the gloaming, if at all?
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