By Em Hughes (Founder, DIASH)

Here I sit, 3am and no one to share the night with.

All that’s next to me is the unfinished bottle of vodka. It waits for me to take another sip and it’s hard to resist putting my lips around the open bottleneck and douse the few remaining drops of alcohol into my already-burning stomach.

Not that the burning helps the crying any better. Heavy sobs and silent noises of mourning intertwined with each other. Every thought of what we had serves to torture me over and over. All those self-help books, movies, and songs about empowerment. What help to me are they right now? Maybe one day I will understand the freedom they talk about. Until then, I wallow in self-pity and misery. Writing about the feelings eating away at my existence.

I had the nightmare again. It was a long one that I can’t remember all that happened. But the last bit was pretty terrifying. I was nine again, standing in my mother’s bedroom. She was on her phone as I looked out the window. A flash of orange was seen in the distance. At first, I thought the sun was still out. Then I saw the clock struck midnight. Suddenly, two people covered in ashes were running, screaming in terror. My whole house started to shake before I woke up in sweats. I have had this nightmare ever since Mom and Hero Dad were taken away. Real Dad, my biological father, would let me sleep in his office whenever I had the bad dream so he could look after me. Everything will be alright, he would say underneath the paperwork. But he didn’t understand. How could he, being part of the problem?

We were never allowed to post after midnight.

If we did, we were taken away. To where, only God knows. People are not allowed to talk about him, either. Once the Caretakers took over after the president was impeached, we couldn’t utter a sound if it made anyone feel bad or negative about themselves. Books were banned. Social media became monitored. No genders. No individuality. Nothing.

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