Updated: Apr 4
A new excerpt from the WIP:
She’s not sure how she got here. If she writes, maybe the answer will come. She wants to write. It’s not that she doesn’t. She needs it in fact. The release that writing brings is like coming up for air after you’ve been underwater too long. She remembers. The weight pushing her down, the fluttering of her heart, the panic in her muscles, the instinctual thrashing that accompanies the act of drowning.
The rush of that first breath is exhilarating, the words tumbling over one another just because they can. The light-headedness that follows is like flying. Writing is a lot like that. An outpouring. A lightening that comes right at the moment you feel yourself crushed beneath the full weight of the worlds you carry within you
Correction, she thinks.
Writing used to be a lot like that.
She searches for the words and finds something else instead.
It is familiar and alien all at once, like an old friend with new skin but the same voice.
It speaks sometimes and she smiles. Other times her dreams show her a face she doesn’t know and she screams. It wears black gloves, but sometimes it takes them off when it thinks it’s alone. Its hands are pale and long-fingered, arthritic, gnarled by age or hard work or some combination of the two.
Right now, it sleeps, nestled into the place (where the words formed, that nebulae of self that develops sweet, full expression.)
She thinks of the words she can’t seem to conjure, themselves blazing stars whose only future lies in lighting some other’s world, warming some other’s skin, tugging at some other’s insides, manifesting only in tides.
The words she gave away. And even as she grew weak, she felt a rightness. Like this was the thing she was meant to be doing. The day would come when there was nothing left to offer, when the world would demand more than she could produce. She knew that for longer than she feels comfortable admitting.
The economist in her wonders why she didn’t start charging. A good or service that has become limited in supply as demand has continued to soar is worth more in the marketplace-it’s the basic laws of supply and demand.
The truth is that, at that point, she didn’t want any of it anymore. No money could have secured her happiness. She had grown beyond her bounds. She no longer fit her reality. She needed something more. And she found it. Oh lord did she find it.
It was her defense against feeling. It filled her veins with oblivion and made her heart grow warm and light in her chest. It seeped into every hole and expanded. It promised to patch all the broken places in her, as it carved out a home in her flesh.
It knew secret words. Words the world could never know. Words that could not escape the bounds of these walls. She wrote them and burned them and still they lingered in her brain, rising phoenix-like from the ashes.
She would hurt it then, bury its cries in pain.
She could still feel the X-acto knife, remember the sense of tearing as it broke the skin, pulled jagged lines down her arm or leg, or whatever bit of canvas was most accessible. And she was like a slowly sinking ship as it happened, and she was also the relentless waves. She waited for the breath that comes when you’re pulled from the water, when the oxygen flows through your lungs again, when your heart regains its natural rhythm.
It did not come. Because she withheld it from herself. Blackness rushed in to swallow her. And then she’d be ashore and the world would be still. At peace. .
What am I but words, I wonder?
She’d think as she stood.
Today is different.
The weight of her is all wrong.
And then the memory prods at her, a slow awakening of nerves. Like a fine shard of glass beneath the skin, it twists and tears and evades her grasp.
Em lets outs a gasp, suppresses a scream only with a monumental effort.
What has she done?