On forgetting to breathe.

A week of abject failure brings pleasant reminisces of the weeks before, before the grades and the evaluations and the interview I hopelessly blew worse than my high school prom date (my sincerest apologies, Russkie) in the suit I wore, growing wetter and my smile bigger as the futility came over me like a dense wool blanket.

Last week, they splayed me on the bed. Last week, I was more alive, and my fingers smelled rusty, like the dark jars in the dead hallways of the museum beloved in my childhood. The jars were filled with the musk of long-dead animals, black and hollow inside. I would lean on my elbows and breathe in the foreign seduction, alone in a rounded room.

Today, I am tired. The act of writing is as labored and choked as my breaths with the pinch of every clip cinched across the flesh of my forearm and mottled atop my thighs. The stakes get higher when she looks me in the eye. She won’t let me get away, neither of them will. I watch the metal grasp my skin, take a bite out of my vanity and wind me tighter.

There are things I cannot change, like the burble and hiss of water as it slowly ebbs from the building. When I return home at 2, tearing off my suit, it will stay off until 8. I will get dirty. I will bang my greasy paws against the counter and sigh. The grades will not change until the semester turns over. I will apply and apply to meaningless jobs until my own name swims in front of my eyes. The men will still make jokes. The shirts will still not fall correctly, evenly over a flat chest. The clocks will stop, the hours will continue. The calls will go unanswered, my emails unreplied.

Last week, I was trussed, my hands in front of me so close and inaccessible, a tantalizing bounty unfolding, curling. Each breath emanated through every pore. The binder clips tightened my skin around me, forced me underneath the waves of oxygen, dizzying, slow gasps until I moved back under. The knuckles dug into my skin like a shovel, piercing fertile ground.

There are things that can change. The bruises fade back into my skin, or evaporate from it like tea from paper. The clothes fit better as the suits get smaller and quietly, I begin to communicate with my family once more. The girl I first kissed (a decade ago, where does it go?) resurfaces from a murky deep. The air outside my apartment smells like spring and gasoline. From butch to butcher to busting out in the center of the bed. People read, but do not speak. We are playing this weekend, we are partying as the moon rises atop the shitty buildings of this shitty town and will ignore the sounds of ambulances echoing around the rooms.

-C.

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