There is no more fingernails left to bite and no one around to fuck.
Stepping into the shower, I turn the dial to an unholy temperature.
A normal person would flinch. A normal person would turn off the water.
In bed, I draw lines on my skin with a ballpoint pen, close my eyes, and imagine I can see red. I pull out the vicious little rectangle of metal just to look at it, put it back, and shut my nightstand.
Violently, I masturbate.
That night, I dream of a dark and deserted alley. A lamppost flickering in front of me. Moths dancing into the light, wings drunk with uncertainty, bodies welcoming death. Me leaning against a brick wall and choking on a cigarette. A hooded visage. Heavy footsteps making their way toward me. A thick hand wrapped around something intended to split my flesh.
The hairs should be standing up on the back of my neck. My brain should be registering a predator. Me, the prey, should feel inclined to fight or take flight. I should aim at him like a feral cat—claw, kick, show teeth. I should scream toward the street. I put my weight on my other foot and take a drag instead.
He wants a peek at my blood, wants my wallet, wants any number of things, and do you still want to hear the rest if what I want is the blade?
Isn’t there a theory about dreams being an evolutionary adaptation to rehearse our responses to threatening situations, so why did I just stand there?
Four nights ago I wrote in my journal: The greatest lie ever told is that there’s room in this world for a body like the one I own. Good things come to die here. Things grow here only to rot like peaches. Have you ever seen what a fruit looks like after maggots are done with it? Imagine that’s what you’d see if you looked at my insides and stared at my heart. Imagine deadwood on breathing lungs.
Sometimes this body just feels like a space for all the emptiness inserting itself like cancer into my bones. I imagine it growing at an alarming rate, multiplying itself like malignant cells under a microscope, swallowing me and everything I am whole.
I can’t remember the person I was before the person I am now. I don’t know who that was, but if I think about it enough, I am certain there was somebody different here before the catastrophe that is this being. A part of her left, and the part that remained alone in this place misses her and wonders if she’ll ever come back.
It’s a vacancy that makes me forget myself. It’s a sort of dissociation. It’s an obliteration.
It’s a kind of death to watch other people living life the way you can’t, to look at the world spread out in front of you like a painting you could jump into any second, but can’t, and feeling a disconnect.
There are these things I do and I don’t know whether they hurt or make me feel good, all I know is they make me feel real.
At the bar, I find the impetus my body has long forgotten.
I find it in lipstick. I find it in music. I find it in fleeting moments of laughter. I find it in the tequila going down my throat.
I find it wasted.
I find it titillated by the cologne on a man’s shirt.
I find it and lose it again. Down the sink with all the contents in my stomach. Bleeding out with my soul on mattresses that only leave me feeling cold.
The warmth dissipates with the sweat and I am numb again.
Some Saturdays, I spin in circles in bed, the way I did once in the backyard as a little girl in a fluffy dress, counting clouds and wearing her mother’s pearls, only now with an absence of hope.
I am dizzy with ennui. Suffocated by the languorous air. I lay still and track the sun with the movement of shadows in my bedroom.
I come to it by contemplating bad ideas.
I am tempted by things I know can only end badly.
I think about texting him and telling him how much I miss him, knowing damn well he’ll never choose me. Let him fuck me up one more time, I think. I’ve been clean for a long time now, but fuck it, I’ll tear myself apart and spend another two years collecting the pieces just for the bender.
I think about it, but I don’t. Continuing to love him is catastrophic decision enough, but that’s another tragic story for a different time.
I light candles, crush the tip of the match with my fingertips. Sometimes I stare at the flame and let it burn as far as it can before it reaches the end I’m holding.
I convince myself if I spend another weekend in town, it might be the thing to make me want to end it all. Then I book a flight for three days in Portland. I spend it alone. I spend it pretending I’m someone else. I spend it missing him. I spend it in the sheets of a stranger, who provides me with sustenance for the night in the form of his hands and his mouth. I exchange sexts with said stranger and send him pictures that would never allow me to be a politician’s wife after coming home, every few times I’m bored for the next year.
I binge everything in sight one night. I feel nothing at all, not even hunger, and live only on black coffee for the next three days.
I’m reckless. I’m careless. I often tempt fate.
I frequently forget to fasten my seatbelt and, after realizing it, sometimes I don’t make the effort to.
On nights the silence is deafening, I take two, three, four Xanaxs, though my prescription says take one tablet twice daily as needed. On special occasions, I ignore the warning not to mix with alcohol.
I text that guy who never bothered to learn my last name and who squeezes my throat a little too hard simply because I need to feel something taking up space inside of me.
I celebrate my 30th birthday. I toast with champagne. I smile like I am not seeing my body mimicking John Everett Millais’ Ophelia in my head.
For months, I convince myself I am falling for someone I’ve met; I even write about them. I begin to think that there is something left yet. But I wake up one day and don’t feel a goddamn thing for them.
I realize now that I was just bored.
I buy another lipstick and I cut my hair short.
I don’t know whether to call this sadness, call it sickness, or call it nothing at all—sometimes that’s what I feel. All I know is that it keeps coming back like a stray cat out in the yard. It keeps biting me like a mosquito I thought I had gotten rid of but is still inside the house. It’s a gray hair that keeps growing back no matter how many times I pull it out.
There are days when I feel like an empty plastic bag, like the lightest of winds could take me miles away from here. On those days, I don’t want to be here at all.
I fantasize about about death, sometimes more than I do about other things. There are times I find that thoughts of it bring me more comfort than thoughts of the future do.
I realize there’s something about this that goes against nature. Something twisted. Something I shouldn’t be admitting. But this is me at my lowest. This is who I am in my darkest moments.
These are the realities of people like me that are seldom spoken.
I realize I could reach out for help if I wanted to, or even just for someone I could be honest with. I like to blame things like my inability to open up on my being Scorpio, but the truth is that I’m afraid to let anyone in because I’m too afraid to face myself.
Maybe writing these things no one knows, which physically pain me to be admitting and that some would be uncomfortable hearing, is a step in the right direction.
I don’t want to live life beneath a faux moon’s glow. What I’m saying is that I’m exhausted of eviscerating myself.
I am tired of dying just by hiding what’s inside.
I am not the image portrayed by the two-dimensional character featured on Instagram’s news feed—smile wide, always sporting a sultry shade of lipstick, tits out, mischievous look in the eye, having fun, surrounded by friends, hair done, clinking glasses. No. I’m messy, reckless, fucked the fuck up, lonely, lost, shattered, exhausted, full of regrets, all the while hanging on to zero apologies and basking in impenitence. My heart beats surrounded by an electric fence on all fronts. I’m a real third-dimensional human made up of secrets just like everyone else. I am completely relatable to some and downright incomprehensible to their neighbors.
My truth is that it hurts to be here some nights. I am pulverized by the weight of such heavy hollow on some days. And still, I’ve got this burning hunger for things I miss and for things I’ve yet to know.
I am hurting here still.
It hurts, and I’m still here, even so.