The City Sleeps

At Midnight

Everyone has always controlled every aspect of my life. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been told what to wear, what to eat, what sports to play, who to talk to, where to go. Why won’t anyone let me do what I want to do when I want to do it?

As I got older, sleeping became difficult. I’ve turned to sleeping pills. Don’t work. Alcohol. Doesn’t work. Nothing works. I’ve grown so tired of people telling me when to do things; I started to reject succumbing to the norm. Falling in line like a good, productive member of society, I turned to look for something I can control instead.

There was one thing I learned I could control, and I discovered I could manage it most unconventionally. I was raised in a family full of boys and had to learn to defend myself quickly. Being the only girl, if I didn’t, they wouldn’t show me mercy. I have my fair share of bruises from dropping my guard, but I learned that I was quicker than my brothers.

Using my quickness to my advantage, I ultimately developed a new skill set that allowed me to evade and pin any and everyone who tried to take me down. However, I didn’t realize I had this skill until one night after I left my mate’s house, I felt someone following me.

I could hear his footsteps before I saw him. My brothers helped develop those skills by continually coming up with new ways to sneak up on me. It got boring after a while because I could anticipate their every move.

This man wasn’t making the slightest attempt at being discreet. We were walking down a cobbled street where the street lights varied from being burnt out to dim. None of them were bright enough to see facial features, especially not any onlookers from apartments nearby.

There was an ally coming up on my right that I knew if I walked down, he would follow. As I turned the corner, I quickly hid behind the first astronomical object I could spot. Fantastic – a garbage bin. The best smell there could be in the city at night.

Ah, yes, he is following me. I could see him turn down the ally with a particularly confused look on his face. He just needs to get a little bit closer so I can…


As soon as he got to the garbage bin, I swept my leg out and swung them under his feet. He fell with a loud CRACK as his head hit the ground. I could hear him moaning and grabbing at his head, but I needed to act fast before he gains consciousness.

But instead of running to try to lose him, I found myself on top of him, straddling him like a horse. He looked shocked when he saw me, and when he tried to get away, I started laying punches on his face.



Blood was everywhere, and I think I knocked one of his teeth out. I looked over and saw a broken piece of glass on the ground. I grabbed it without a second thought and looked at this man who decided it was a good idea to follow me.

I looked right into his eyes, and could see his fear, feel his heart pounding when he saw the glass in my hand. The vein in his neck was throbbing and pulsing faster and faster.

“Please! Let me go! I’m sorry! Just don’t hurt me!”

“Don’t hurt you? But weren’t you trying to hurt me? Isn’t that why you were following me?”

“I wasn’t following you! I-I-I…uh…I live down this way! Just around the corner.”

“Is that so? You live down a dead-end ally? Huh. Interesting. It’s a shame I don’t believe you.”

He started struggling and begging again, begging for his life. His life? Did he think I was going to kill him? Am I going to kill him?

Before my brain could process the question that I asked myself, my hands decided for me. I could only watch as my right hand lifted the broken piece of glass in the air, across my chest to the left side of my body, and as I swung my arm down, slicing open his throat…


Is it midnight already?

I looked down as his blood poured out of his throat onto the cobble street. It filled the cracks between each broken stone like a river flowing over smooth rocks. He gurgled pinkish-red foam as the life force inside him slowly started drifting – until all was silent.

I could hear pounding in my ears, and blood rushed to my cheeks. My hands were steady even though I had a gash from squeezing the broken glass too tightly.

Slowly, I stood up, looking down at this man who thought he could attack me. This man who tried to control when and how I would get hurt. This man that I killed.

I felt a rush of energy flow through me. It was like I was seeing the world for the first time. Seeing what I was capable of for the first time. That’s when the realization came to me.

The city sleeps at midnight, but I don’t have to.

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Published by Elle

Everyone has a backstory...what's yours?

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