These days, and I do what I should. I eat breakfast, I get enough sleep, I wash my hair. When I’m troubled I tell someone who has felt like me. When I’m agitated I close my eyes, take deep breaths, and treat my thoughts like clouds. I don’t do drugs anymore, even though sometimes I’d like to. I have a man who loves me, and I’ve never thrown anything at this one, besides a bucket or two of sharp words.
Sometimes, still though, things line up in an odd way; maybe it’s the shifting of the planets or moon. The chemicals become unbalanced, and like a scale, I can feel it. The weight shifts around on the platform and I become unglued.
In the mirror, my pupils are wet and black like a lake. My thoughts come quick and brilliant, too painful to take in at once. I want to argue about unarguable things, like the Nature of Society and God. No one will win. I can’t sleep without the pills.
In the morning, the brilliance is gone and all that remains is the hard, fragile edges. My insides feel smoky. I break the lamp, but that was an accident.
I enter the subway. I’d like to let myself boil over, rip open my chest, but people expect so much of me and there’s no room in this world to let it go. I am afraid, because I want to do something questionable. I want to steal from you, to break you, I want to kiss you on the cheek and punch your quiet mouth. I want to fuck that man at my work, the mean one with the bad hair, who tempts me because I know he is bad, just so I could ruin the heart of the man who gives himself to me. I tell myself it is because my boyfriend doesn’t understand what I go through, not really, but this is a lie; the bad man understands me much less.
The train comes but it has the wrong number on the front and I move myself to the middle of the platform, because suddenly I realize how beautiful it would be to jump. If there were swords in stones with the pricks facing outwards, I would surely hurl my heart at one, just to try it, just to say that I did. To see what it feels like to have something slice me open.
The feeling I have, the flutter in my chest – this has nothing to do with being suicidal. I don’t want to die. I don’t even want to close my eyes. It’s more like this world is not enough for me. I have too much in my heart to be in it.
I don’t know what I should do with this, with the boiling going on inside my head. I tell myself it’s not real, these are just thoughts, but I fear I might do something stupid. As explosive as I feel, it is nice, too, because I feel like I’m holding onto a secret. I will sit here and brace myself, my knuckles white as my insides burn, and no one will know this fire.
The train comes, and I get on, and the people inside are all quiet. I want to scream at them, to let them know, to show them just what I’ve found:
That you should cut these strings.
You should cut me open.
You should hunt and slay
my pink thudding heart.
Your eyes may not show it,
they might not burn with my fever
but your chest holds one, too.
LET IT OUT.
JULIET ESCORIA is a writer from Southern California. Black Cloud, her debut story collection, was published by Civil Coping Mechanisms in 2014. Her work has appeared in places like Electric Literature, Hobart, The Quietus, and Everyday Genius. She received an MFA in fiction from Brooklyn College, and a BA in creative writing from the University of California in Riverside. Her literary influences include Eminem, Carl Sagan, PJ Harvey, and Kanye West, among others.
Adapted from Black Cloud, by Juliet Escoria, Copyright © 2014 by Juliet Escoria. With the permission of the publisher, Civil Coping Mechanisms.