“Sleep? Not tonight ducky.”

Mandy shrieked her lungs out when she heard the incessant noises of her tormentors in her head. Her screams got louder each time and though she couldn’t even stand them herself, she knew they were better than those of her torturers. So she saved her eardrums the agony of the deafening noises with her forefingers and shrieked some more. The shrieks were earsplitting and her sore throat only made them hoarse and annoying but they felt like her only path to redemption so she persisted. Her slumber had only lasted an hour, according to her bedside clock and she feared that this torment would go on all night. She hadn’t slept much all week and the thought of another torturous night made her want to scream her heart out.

It was some sort of mental enslavement, that one. She felt like external forces were competing against each other, all working to get her insane. She heard voices in her head all the time, some familiar and others whose identity she couldn’t quite make out. Maybe she could if she tried but the enslavers did not let her think about anything else even for a second. They kept her on her toes, these assailants. She was ever working on their twisted course although they made it seem as if it was for her own good. She worked as hard as she could each time, because she knew that there would be no liberty without enslavement. She knew that things would get better if she held on a little longer but her faith was dwindling with each passing trial. Each command she fulfilled drained her but…

But she fought and fought and fought on some more. She fought even when she felt that there was not a joule of energy left in her. She fought so that the fruits of her womb would not have to deal with the skeletons in her parent’s closets. For them, she would fight to her last breath. Sometimes, when the enslavement was close to unbearable, she’d lock herself up and let out weird shrieks in the hope that angelic forces would free her. Every shrieking moment that didn’t yield anything reminded her that victory meant more if it was preceded by a series of failures. She did not know if and when she would be freed but she kept her goals close to her heart. It was the only safe haven, considering that her mind had been enslaved.

She longed for many things but the longing for freedom to nurture happy thoughts topped it all. She longed that her outbursts of laughter would be longer, not just minute-long displays of her pearl coloured teeth. She wanted to think about the things and people she loved for longer than a second. Heck, she wished that her assailants would grant her even a chance to daydream; to know how it felt to build castles in the air. She had her own castle of a home alright, but a stupid castle it was if it couldn’t save her from herself or grant her some peace of mind.

She crawled in the darkness along the corridor that led to the staircase. There was a full moon that night and a window at the end of the corridor brought in just enough light so she didn’t need to switch on the lights. The staircase was her happy place and the semidarkness brought a mellow feel while the silence helped her relax. The moonlight brought her attention to a piece of artwork that hung loosely on the wall adjacent to the staircase. It was old and rust-brown but she had kept it because it was a souvenir from her grandmother. She saw it every day as she walked up the staircase to her room but it didn’t mean much to her except that it was a fond reminder of the giver. Weirdly though, it was the only thing that made sense that night. All the words were not visible but the line that was brought to life the somber theme of the night.

“Money can buy BED but not SLEEP”, it read, and her heart sank as she cogitated on that painful truth.

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