Riveted by Robyn Sarah
There are words for it. Something clinical, something cold. No. Something vicious. Attacks, most would say. Panic. Anxiety. I imagine them as dark clouds, wisps of terror, filling up my lungs and throat, threatening to make the world disappear.
Whenever it happens it feels like they have taken everything away from me, and I am left clawing alone in the deep dark.
It’s difficult, finding my way to the surface. I slide back to myself, only to feel like I have shrunk, dried up in those few minutes, and now my skin hangs loosely from my body.
A poor fit, says a voice in my head. A poor life.
I said, I should really learn how to say yes more than no. I said, remember when I was that person? It’s as if she’s vanished, these past two years, and instead was replaced by an empty shell, which is also myself.
Somebody asked a question, and it took me hours, days, to come up with an answer. I sit in a corner, my head between my knees, gasping. How do people do this without flinching?
What does it mean to say yes?
Gumption, I whisper furiously to empty room. Living, said the echo.
It is possible that things will not get better
than they are now, or have been known to be.
It is possible that we are past the middle now.
It is possible that we have crossed the great water
without knowing it, and stand now on the other side.
Yes: I think that we have crossed it. Now
we are being given tickets, and they are not
tickets to the show we had been thinking of,
but to a different show, clearly inferior.
Check again: it is our own name on the envelope.
The tickets are to that other show.
It is possible that we will walk out of the darkened hall
without waiting for the last act: people do.
Some people do. But it is probable
that we will stay seated in our narrow seats
all through the tedious denouement
to the unsurprising end— riveted, as it were;
spellbound by our own imperfect lives
because they are lives,
and because they are ours.
(from The Writer’s Almanac)