When I was a kid, I was ready for lava.
I would leap from chair to table, rescuing my home from its ashen fate in the heated unstoppable ooze. It was a game, I suppose, but to me, it was preparation.
When I was a kid, I was afraid of the substances that could kill you in an instant. The creatures that could snap away the whole of your life in a flash.
Lava. Poison. Quicksand. Kaijus.
Things that took away your chance at survival.
I didn’t know enough to know I should be afraid of survival, too.
I didn’t know I should be more afraid of mouths that mark you for a lifetime than the jaws that swallow you whole. I didn’t know I should be afraid of the small teeth. The kind that chomp away in tiny pieces, so slowly you almost forget you are losing yourself.
I didn’t know I should be afraid of the poison that does not kill you.
The poison that sits in your belly and churns and churns, and makes a sickness from a healthy mind. The poison that gives you reasons to die.
When I was in prison, the girls used to say that if the city flooded, we would be left in our cells. That it’s happened all over the country. That no one shames a city for leaving its trash out like a sacrifice when the river comes to take. That no one blames a city for letting mother nature weep punishment on those in need of it
When I was in prison, I was ready for flood.
But I wasn’t ready for survival, wasn’t ready to walk out the gates with a belly full of poison and a body covered in bites. I wasn’t ready to walk out with bigger invisible fears than a whole world turned to ash.
I leap from chair to table, warning people that the floor is lava, or maybe flood and something is eating us in small bites and filling us with death, and there are some locks so strong that we forget the people behind them.
I leap from chair to table, warning that the floor is lava, sweating in the heat of it, aching from the work of it, tired, so tired. So tired of this same ‘ol game, so frustrated that it still isn’t a game to me at all.