Suddenly, Shadows!

“I walk across eaves
and the small of your back
as though I know better than to leave a mark”

I thought of that at god-knows-what-time in the morning. I kept seeing people in strange monochrome suits etched into my eyelids; I would turn my imaginary back, and there’d be a silhouette in the darkness where none was before.

I don’t remember details. I don’t want to; but panic starts to bubble up in my gut and I have to make a conscious effort not to let it boil over into fear. Was it a dream? Was it reality? I remember exhaustion and my friend sleeping on the couch in my room and the constant sound of birds chirping in the otherwise eddying night land soundscape.

All summer, I’ve sleep with a comforter on because the morning is chilly, but this particular very early morning, my arms and my chest were swelled up with fire as that now too-familiar feeling of utter and complete terror seized me like an owl’s talons curling over a mouse.

This dread is starting to infiltrate my life in these nefarious ways. If I’m not totally engaged in physical work, or mentally working on that-which-has-yet-to-be-formally-named, or indulging in some mindless whatever, my mind automatically, like clockwork, fixates on the to-come, and it’s starting to become really really annoying.

It’s taking me out of the moment. I can’t start openly choking on this morbidity in public. Firstly: it’s unseemly. Secondly: it’s unhealthy. Thirdly: I’m losing my enjoyment of the present because I keep waiting for the grave to close in around me.

GET. A. GRIP. Just because your father’s older than James Gandolfini doesn’t mean that in the next second, Papa’s going to drop dead too. Just because everybody’s waiting on Nelson Mandela’s last breath doesn’t mean that all of a sudden, every public figure I’ve ever known is going to shrivel up into the wrinkled, withered forms of the nebulous “Old.” Lilian E Min, you are not Michael Hastings, not least because you haven’t achieved anything close to what he has.

Just to cover my bases: Big Brother, if you’re reading this, don’t worry, I’m a fastidiously moral, law-abiding citizen. Go America!

Okay. But even as I type this, I can feel doubt creeping into my mind palace. No, I don’t actually call it my mind palace. Whatever, I miss “Sherlock,” even though the more I think about that show, the less I like it.

THAT. ASIDE. Jesus, I’m all over the place today. Anyway, my friend Alexa and I both randomly started reading “The Handmaid’s Tale” (actually, I was supposed to have read that for class last semester but oops), and there’s this one passage that stuck to the inside of my brain:

Is that how we lived, then? But we lived as usual. Everyone does, most of the time. Whatever is going on is as usual. Even this is as usual, now … We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.

We lived in the gaps between the stories.

I can hear the second hand on my watch ticking away, and I think about how badly I’ve been sleeping, and how every second I delay my sleep is another dozen shaved off the quivering timeline of my life. Perhaps the Fates are stretching my string right now, and the maw of their scissors is closing in around it…

And now I don’t think I’m going to sleep well tonight either.

(Image: Comic by notalkingplz)


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