He returned. Out of nowhere, out of nothing, out of the air which seemed to be just normal, life in its everyday weather kind of air, he returned. Suddenly, he was there.
We tusseled. My mouth goes sour. What is the word for that taste? Feathers? Ash? Sand. It is the sand of a big stone graveled desert, coated in blood, dried by wind, rotted with sulpher. That is what happens when you repeat yourself to insanity. Please stop. Please stop. Please. Stop.
Then, it was over. Then, then, it hurts. Then you look down into your hands and wonder if you will ever get over it. You doubt it. You know. This thing is done. I will never recover. The wound, being Everywhere, will not heal. What is that, blood? Why?
The world collapses. Like a telescope. An accordion. A tower whose stantions have been knocked. Samson has pulled the entire ediface down. Now: ruins.
The world collapses. You remember, vaguely. You recognize. Those are other people. That is a car. That is a table, a salt shaker, a cut of meat. The dog looks at you, mournfully. You remember, vaguely: this salt shaker, I used to use it, but why? This book, I was engrossed. Why? The television blears and blares. It is difficult to maintain the narrative. It is impossible to discern what the people are doing, why they are laughing, what ‘audience’ is, or ‘economy’, or even ‘Africa’. There is a little boy. He has eyes. You do not know why. Nothing speaks a common language.
The exhaustion is terrifying. You sleep. You must pull and struggle monumentally, you must rise through concrete. Your whole body bruises in the effort. This is a good day.
The exhaustion. You sleep. You have one thing that you cannot avoid doing in the day; most everything you have cancelled. You dread. You plot. You hope something will intervene. Five hours prior you begin the effort, the composure. You pull. You pull. Fifteen minutes prior to the thing you manage to set your feet on the floor.
You stink. There is something in your body that has rotted. It seems to be coming out of your pores.
You go, you manage, you do this one thing. There is no certainty of what you said while you were there. There is no way of knowing whether you accomplished what you were supposed to or not. All you could do was place your body in that place where it was supposed to be, say things that vaguely sounded like the same thing you said before, which will have to be enough. It is unclear whether anyone notices. But there seems to be a delay in your mouth. A thickness, a sludge, between each and every synapse.
Then, this one thing done, you return to where you were. You are able, maybe, to close the door behind you. You, like world, collapse.
You stink. There is something in your body, rotted. There is something in your eyes, something maybe in the whites of your eyes, or a scrim on the surface. Everything appears brown.
Your skin, you think, has become a doughy gray. Clammy. Unsweated. Fish toned.
The door. You spend forty five minutes looking at the door. You are aware you will have to navigate it again, some day. You are vaguely afraid he might be on the other side of it, his ear pressed against it. His hands in fists.
Yes. You are bird-hearted, and have an ongoing series of bird heart attacks. It is constant frisson, constant explosion. This is the only velocity you’ve got. But everywhere: is he waiting in the garage? Will he step out of that doorway? Grocery stores are unsafe. Sidewalks are borderlands. Parking lots, pathways, the cornfield has too many dark places in it.
You see a young girl. You see she is approached by a man. You want to screech: look out look out look out look out.
You must cover yourself. That stench. That fish skin. You cannot look in the mirror, have not for days. You have not eaten, not bathed, have been locked in a kind of constant sleep but never sleep forever. It must be, forever.
More clothing. More. Hat. Do not leave without a hat. Perhaps it would be easier to keep your glasses on, your coat, while you sit in the armchair in your room.
This salt shaker. I used it before. Why?
You struggle, you pull. You know the stakes: a human body must move, must eat, you must find words again, converse. You try. There are others at the table. The food swells and stretches your throat. You chew and chew. It disgusts you. You bloat and swell. After half an hour, the others finally clear their plates and stand. You have eaten four fork fulls. Three. It hurt so much the tears now pour down your face.
You sleep, you drift. You touch the spines of books, the projects you had started. But you cannot enter them. Every book in the world is full of blank pages. No one in the world sees this but you.
The phone rings. It dances. This is the most terrifying event in the world. It takes you two hours to recover. An hour more, and you can perhaps look to see who it was that called.
Then one day, you begin to weep. It will not stop. It goes and goes. You are frightened by it’s noise. You are frightened others will hear you. You stuff pillows in your mouth. You take long showers. You sit on the bathroom floor and let the shower run. You weep, even in your sleep.
But of course you cannot shower, you can’t bathe. Not with the lights on.
People, people. They startle you. You have some desire to ask them to help. To reach your arms up and have them pull you. Help you to stand. But you realize this is rediculous, so you say nothing at all.
The sound of a passing car could mean imminant danger. It could.
You know you are probably angry. There have been symptoms. Sweat on the palms, for a moment. Tightness at the temples. Quavering voice and spitted words. But they disappear too quickly. You are aware you probably need them. You go looking. But they are gone.
The door. You stare at the door.
Perhaps you should learn anger. Practice it. As though it were a new language. Go through the declensions, the verbs, the past perfect, until it comes naturally.
Then, the world comes back to you. Small, at first. You notice there are six hundred different colors in the patch of grass. You notice the prairie moving, in a breeze you cannot feel. The world is given back to you, in small pieces at a time. Blade by blade. Inch by inch. You find yourself blinking. The mind unclenches.
Later, you are hungry. Your hands are thin. You reach, with starvation, with neediness, with rush, for salt.
You will practice anger. As if it were Italian. You are given back the world, word at a time. Meek thistle. Rusted can. Why are you so beautiful? You sleep, honest sleep, for the first time in weeks. There are dreams in this sleep, and this makes you feel like dancing when you wake.
You reach, driven and starving, for the salt.
A passing car, though, stops the heart. It could mean danger. It could.