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I am at a loss.
Woken up from the wildness of my own thrashing, I survey my room in the dimness.
My cover is all but crumpled to the ground, bed sheets in disarray and pillow nowhere in sight.
I make no move to tidy the bed. I sit still in it, in the wild mess. I breathe; in and out, in and out. Survey the room again. I feel cold.
I do not know what time it is, but the house is quiet. I feel lonely.
I will my thoughts to focus on the solidarity, the loneliness. The emptiness of the house, the quiet.
Anything but the thumping in my chest. I don’t want the chill to seep in; I don’t want to give room for the cold to make its way inside my skin.
Left forsaken at the same place, over and over again—the same panic, same wrenching in my heart for the last five nights. I cannot know where I am, but I know my skin is slick from sweat and the air damp all around me. I do not know where I am but I know I cannot stay still, I feel vulnerable. I need to escape, and my strides lengthen, quicken. Strides? I am running. The ground is rough under my feet, it pokes and hurts. I wear no shoes. I am in darkness, but somehow I know there is blazing light behind me—I am running from it. A fire, the thought comes to me. Not running, fleeing. A blazing monster, wanting destruction and wanting.. Me. To pull me asunder and burn over me. It is a rage, blind and ferocious.
The wind pushes me forward, propels me farther from the fire from behind me, from next to me. I am grateful. The wind caresses my bare arms, my flying hair, my face. I run faster. My feet attack the ground, uncaring and urgent. All of a sudden I know that I am the one who created the fire I am fleeing from. I created it, the destruction alive and spitting with rage and after me. The wind blankets me as I shiver.
I run for eternity. My feet flying, my arms pumping, blood rushing. I soar, away from the fire and its wrath. I cannot be stopped.
Then comes the burst of quiet.
When I blink I am no longer running. I stand as still as death and I feel cold. I am so, so cold. An icy grip of dread keeps me still as it coils around my stomach, freezing me. I want to shiver but I cannot move.
I am a foot away from an edge.
I do not know what has happened but there is no time to wonder, no time to look. I don’t know where the time has gone. I don’t know why it is that I cannot think. All I know is that I should not move. Move back, my limbs scream at me. Step back, step away they plead. But I do not understand, I cannot think. I step forward. I am numb. I step forward again. My hands fist. I do not notice. A final step.
I am at the tip of a ledge. There is water beneath, quiet and calm and knowing and deadly. The dread at my stomach slinks closer, squeezing tight. I need air, I need space. I gasp, breaking the air. But the air is missing, I cannot get enough. Rapid gasps and I feel faint, yet I do not fall. I cannot understand what my eyes show me, I cannot make anything of it at all. I want to throw up. I want to look closely. I want to drop to the ground. I want to weep in joy. I want to scream. I want to celebrate. I want to never remember this, forget I ever saw. I want to write it down, forever.
There is a body in the water beneath. The water, dark and deep and deathly. It ripples at my abhorrence, thrilled. Sinister. But the body in the water, floating, holding my gaze without returning it. I know this body. I have known this body all my life. Its hands have held me, fed me, shook me, accused me, slapped me. Its eyes have glared at me, held daggers at me. Its mouth has torn my hope to shreds, had me cowering in fear, anger, hurt. Broken things—hopeful things. The hands, both giving and punishing. Eyes, unyielding and demanding. Mouth, heaving directions and expectations. Inflicting pain with sharp words, packaged in boxes with more words inside. Its piercing confessions of disappointment. Its fiery temper. Yes, I know this body well, known it all my life. The body of my flesh and blood. The body of my father in the water.