There was a pounding in his skull. Throbbing. Insistent. It made it difficult to hear what was going on around him, let alone think about his position. Worse yet, the pounding did not limit itself to the confines of his aching head; instead, it seemed to move throughout his body, manifesting in different ways—stabbing, aching, burning—but he knew what it was, where it stemmed from, no matter what form it took.
How long had it been since he had felt relief? Had it been only a day? Longer? At this point, it was impossible to tell. The pain had become second nature, so familiar that it might as well belong there. And perhaps it did.
He pressed the heels of his palms into his eyes, hissing at the pressure. A part of him wondered how far he would have to push before his eyes disappeared into the pounding maelstrom of his mind. Would they still see, inside? And if they could see, would they be able to comprehend? Would they understand what they saw? Could they explain?
Not that it mattered. He never got that far. Hands were back in his lap, trembling. Eyes were firmly shut, as if doing so might help him concentrate on expelling that incessant pounding. It didn’t. If anything, it only made him more aware of the pain.
Open your eyes, a voice whispered, perhaps from within, perhaps without.
But that was impossible. If he opened them…if he opened them, then he might lose everything.
Some would call this pain unbearable, call it agony beyond what a single person could handle. But without it…who was he?
If he opened his eyes, would it leave him? Alone? Empty? Bereft of purpose?
Was not some purpose better than none?