The thing that bothers me most is the numbness.
The days I wake up blank.
The days I remember everything but feel nothing about it.
My skin doesn’t react. My voice doesn’t emote. I just blink and smile, and breathe, and somewhere under all of that, the real me is screaming.
But she is gagged, and locked in a room inside my mind, and my ears are plugged anyway, like I climbed too high.
I get this way when I climb too high.
I get this way when things seem really smooth, and happy. When I am loved, and loving, and doing good work. When my body holds itself together like nothing was ever broken.
My brain is waiting for the pattern to complete itself, waiting to be stabbed in the heart or the back, waiting for my hips to fall out of sway, for tomorrow to be put on hold.
It applies the anesthesia, and my face feels stuffed.
Like a sinus infection, or day zero of a cold, or the moment halfway up the mountain when you remember that human beings are not goats.
My face feels bigger than it should be. Like a cabezudo.
Except I can’t take my face off at night and rest.
Except I can’t rest.
I do something I call sleeping now. I rub alongside my nose, under my eyes.
I close my eyes.
I remember things.
Every memory sounds muffled, and I wonder if playing it back will infect it with the virus. If I’ll only remember it this way forever, as if I were gagged through it, as if I were barely there.
I try to hear what I’m saying through the muffle. I try to remember why I’d try to say anything at all.
But the numbing is potent. The blankness is everywhere.
Maybe it’s just a sinus infection, I tell myself. Or a virus.
Maybe I climbed too high and just need to wait it out.
Maybe I should brew some tea, breathe, and keep climbing up the pattern.
I’m sure I’ll tumble down eventually.