Some hours of the day are harder than others. Five To Six AM, for example, is a strange, particular beast. She puts her arm around you as you wait for the world to wake up. She doesn’t say anything and she doesn’t need to, because even as she smiles you already feel the knife she’s slowly pressing at your back. Your spine softens, warmed by her hand, and then the blade goes in, smoothly.
Five To Six likes to draw the first blood. She knows you can’t fight, not yet. Not when your defenses against your demons are still being rebuilt from the siege of the night before, and your soldiers are still recovering from protecting you from the memories that assault you even in sleep.
She tucks a wayward strand of hair behind your ear and looks into your eyes. She winces slightly, as if to apologize for something she needs to do, before twisting the knife further, deeper, lodging it in its familiar place. You accept the apology, welcome the pain. You begin to bleed out. And she starts to sing with the sun.
Then your first friend, Eight AM, crashes through your door. He is laden with gifts like deadlines and morning shows and traffic jams and budget cuts and fussy clients and deranged co-workers and unfinished briefs and bills and visas and your friend’s problems. Like a bitty boss, Eight AM pulls you up and starts kicking your senses to life, stronger than the overpriced sweet coffee-thing you just bought, despite not needing coffee in the morning because you’ve always been a little weird. Eight AM and his gang, Nine To Eleven, barks at you like a General: Get up! Get moving, get moving, get moving!
Then a lull walks–no–saunters in. Twelve Noon is here. She’s a bitch of a chick, smoking her Marlboro reds while she looks at you with the arrogant, relaxed air of someone who knows you’re about to get hit. Again. She presses a button and the work machine begins to slow down, levelling off over the sound of your brain screamming for it to keep going. It stops, and time is rammed down your throat, forcing you to catch your breath.
Twelve Noon snickers as she walks closer, and she blows smoke in your face. She touches her lips to your ear and whispers: Go ahead, think of it. Rewind every miserable minute, indulge your pity, your petty, your rage, your sadness. Do you fancy a lurk? How about a little stalk? Yes, sulk and wallow, she says in a deep, gravelly voice that’s as ugly as it’s strangely mesmerizing. She keeps blowing that smoke, your eyes glaze over and like an automaton you do her bidding, allowing the break to be felt again.
Twelve Noon tells you the truth and your part in your destruction. She takes a drag on her cigarette, and laughs with you bitterly, agreeing with your worst suspicions, tells you everything has always been a lie, and affirming the sheer stupidity of you hoping for a better outcome, another solution, or an ending that at least doesn’t tear you to shreds with its cruelty.
Twelve Noon takes you through denial, anger, guilt, then back to denial, anger and guilt. It’s a bracelet on her wrist with a name tag that says Broken and she wears it proudly, in your fucking face. Twelve Noon is the Mean Girl who bullies One to Five PM. Their squad rules, all the way to sundown, powered by cloudporn and depressing orange sunsets that only remind you of your foolishness, yet again.
Then darkness sets in and you get a reprieve. Six PM is here and she has your first breath. She is a superhero who, in one fell swoop, vanquishes The Five Hour Posse that’s got you by the throat. She carries you, she has your back, she’s the friend who picks you up, buys you a drink, distracts you with her own shitty problems so you can feel superior or at least comforted, for a short while.
The one who drives you to the ends of the earth to do stupid things safely, the one who reminds you that there is nothing to regret, praises you for your courage and assures you that in time, the sharp pain will ease into a sting until it is nothing more than a scar you can proudly show off, even possibly entertain people with. And Twelve Noon may have had a posse, but Six PM comes with an army.
Six PM has Seven to Sleep firmly in her pocket. And when finally the day is done and 24 is spent, she tucks you in bed and kisses your brow, promising that tomorrow will be a little bit better. And if it isn’t, it will be. Meantime there’s wine to be had and more recklessness to be enjoyed.
And you wake up again.