I didn’t expect it to be painful. Rather silly.
You’ve been doing this for how long now? And you didn’t think it’d be painful?
“Listen. I was unprepared for my words to summon a tsunami of anguish and confusion.”
Who are you talking to?
“Myself, obviously.” I gesture wildly at the crowd of no one.
Back to the story.
She asked me when I first attended. “So I attempted to describe the timeline – you know, scrunching up my face and calling up the details of the first day.”
Seems a fairly benign question.
“But somewhere between my mouth forming words and recalling the emotions of that time I was catapulted into the past and lost my mind.”
We’ve done that in therapy before.
I sighed, “I know but I just thought I was done with all the surprises. Now I have to deal with this thing.”
Yes you do. Still waiting for why you’re surprised?
Destabilizing. That’s what they call it when you start to go mad. Teetering between reality and psychosis.
Who is cry ing?
She said “Ok we’ve taken a look around; now let’s go back.”
I hear her, but she seems far away. Or rather I am far away.
Where is this place? I hear sobbing.
Who is crying?
My body sees. My eyes do not. I am deafened by blackness.
Who is crying?
She became aware of heat on her shoulder. Fearfully, she turned her head to see. Her heart sank.
I thought that was you. Her head grew heavy, sinking toward her chest, collapsing under the weight of anguish.
She howled, “I put that away!”
Startled at the volume of her own voice, she lifted her chin slightly.
The smell of the cooling September evening taunted her. “And yet you are afraid,” snickered a mocking voice from the trees. “Child, you are simply wearing a costume for them. I know the truth.”
She stood, immobile. Unsure. Only her eyes moved, darting rapidly.
A slight warmth tickling my toes. If I close my eyes I can hear it whispering.
Deep inhale draws a shimmer. I know my eyes are smiling.
Elusive, ethereal, evanescent.
I snuggle into the clouds. Safe, warm, and blissful.
Too soon this will end.
She looks deeply into the looking glass and repeats the words, beginning to smile. Her reflection peers back at her, encouraging.
Just as quickly, her eyes become sad. The four walls of tradition remind her.
You were unsafe without this. Do not trust yourself to stand alone. You will fall.
Crestfallen, she retreats.
It would be stupid, I know. Why fix something that isn’t broken? Remain safe. Restrained.
Will you keep living a lie?
I am somehow bathed in light though my eyes cannot see it. I am not blind. I hear the raspy giggles around the corner, the frenetic chatter behind me.
My chest tightens further, threatening my oxygen. I find myself frustrated with the inability to discern forward from backward and up from down.
I am hampered by lack of direction; simultaneously I am imbued with divine knowledge that I
will brush aside the tangled, pulsating shadows and emerge on my throne.
An incoherent sound erupts from my lips, a soft and feminine murmur. I feel a smile spread across my face as I stare in wonder at the polarity of the night.
“Oh,” I say resignedly. “It’s you. Mmhmm come on in.”
Inwardly I roll my eyes at myself,
surely you didn’t think she was actually gone did you? Tears cloud my vision.
“You know what the definition of insanity is?” She asks.
Like forgetting that at the end of every productive summer comes the insufferable pain of fall? “Yes,” I say quietly.
She smiles. “Well, come now help me set out my things.” She reaches into her absurdly Mary Poppins-like bag and pulls out the weighted vest, ankle shackles, an elephant, and… what was that?
I groan inwardly. “Oh you brought the funhouse mirror again. I was really doing so good at…” I trail off, close my eyes and allow the tears to begin their descent down my cheeks.
“Where are you going?” She asks as I turn to leave the room.
“I need to make a phone call. She’ll want to know you’re here. For planning purposes you know.”
She smiles knowingly. “Riiight.”
The beginning was fine. Just fine. As the work unfolded, the embers began to glow with heat. Had she been paying attention, she would have heard the crackling.
Lazily, the flickering of the flame caressed the pages of discarded knowledge, setting them alight. She continued her task, unaware.
The fire reached still-hot coals from previous books, gaining speed and girth.
As if from a dream, she woke to the inferno, gasping. Its tentacles danced closer, taunting. Perhaps she could outrun it.
Momentum grabbed her wrist and violently drug her away. Panting, she looked back. Ghosts of smoke hinted at the horizon.
Now she could sleep.
There’s a smell in the air and a change to the breeze that cues my body.
The smell of pumpkin spice does not comfort me.
Passersby delight in sporting their hoodie while I look upon them as if they are foreign.
I am the one who is foreign here.