This week would be different. She took out her contacts and went to bed. In the morning she woke up at 6 am and contemplated breakfast. She had work to do, and she sat facing the glow of the computer as the anxiety took her. Her stomach turned into a void, Nietzsche’s abyss spitting out all of last week’s bad decision, grinding them into her being like glass.
Despite her grand intentions she returned to bed and lay wrapped in blankets. It ate at her like a piranha; it ate at her like strange creaks in a big house. It ate at her like hunger, like fear. Her bad decisions had crawled into her stomach to destroy her.
Last week Mr. Hyde had taken over and his remnants remained in this week’s Dr. Jekyll. Mr. Hyde was mocking her. He had demanded a life of his own and his long, dirty fingernails scratched at her being, leaving oozing sores and bloody abrasions. He was rabid and merciless. She prayed for an Atticus, someone with a good shot to put down the sorry creature, the uncanny monster that preyed on her. She prayed on it.
Her pitiful cries for mercy went unheeded, her prayers falling upon deaf ears like waves on the Cliffs of Dover, her pleas the dull roar of a storm leaving broken masts and sinking ships in its wake. Vessels might fail, but the rocks remained ignorant to the tumult that fell upon them.
She writhed like the devil was inside her. No position was comfortable. No thought brought her peace. It was if she had a sunburn on her soul—maybe it would subside in a few days but now it singed as if it would never go away. No, this wasn’t the product of sitting in the sun too long. Acid had been thrown on her insides, disfiguring her mind as her heart was wrought with suffering.
At 11 am she crawled from her inferno of regret and went downstairs to smoke a cigarette. She sat in her sweatpants and sweatshirt, her glasses hiding her puffy eyes, and smoked two cigarettes as prettier girls passed her by. They were clad in designer dresses and Doc Martens, their mouths formed easy smiles as they went to and from classes. She envied them and decided to get ready.
The shower was hot and she cried as she scrubbed herself clean. Clean of her transgressions. She brushed her teeth extra well since she had not been up to the task last night. She combed her hair free of tangles. She put on fresh makeup and fresh clothes, careful to find a dress long enough to hide the scars on her leg. Maybe she was as pretty as the other girls. Did it matter?
This life wasn’t sustainable. Everyone claiming to love her told her that. She knew it. But what choice did she have? In picking a career, her sister told her anyone could do anything for a year. She had lived in agony for a year, for years. Sometimes she felt as if she was hitting a low spot, then she re-read her journals and realized she lived in a canyon. Her existence was rock bottom. But, as she looked in the mirror, she realized she looked like everyone else. She had on a pretty dress and Doc Martens. Though her dress was not designer, and her shoes were purchased during a sale. Maybe everyone lived in the bottoms of canyons. Maybe everyone suffered like her.
She had jumped off a bridge once. It was not high enough to kill her. Yet she still felt fear as the river waters rushed underneath her. She was surprised when she felt fear of bodily harm. She hadn’t felt fear when she dragged the knife across her leg making geometric patterns. She hadn’t felt anything, not even pain. Yet when her friends urged her to jump into deep waters, she felt fear as she teetered uneasily and she clung to the rail of the bridge.
When she finally got up the courage to jump, she had fallen for an eternity. Long enough to regret it. Long enough to wonder if she would hit the rocks. Not long enough to know if she wanted to. Finally she hit the water and swam to shore as the water pushed her downstream. She came to shore maybe 20 or 30 feet from the bridge. She was a decent swimmer, but never as good as her sister. She was never as good as her sister at anything. Her sister was the one who could do anything for a year. She barely had the will to survive. She only kept living because she was afraid of breaking her sister. That was the one thing that might break her sister.
Today would be a good day, she decided. She felt restless. She wanted to be productive but everything felt unappealing. She could go to the library, but on a pretty day like this? She could work outside, but the sun would make her computer screen impossible to see. She settled for the study lounge.
She opened up a document and got to work. After ten minutes she craved a cigarette. This time she looked as pretty as the girls passing her by as she smoked, smiles fell easily into place on her lips too. She got a soda and went back to work. This time she made it an hour before smoking. She needed to concentrate. She sat down and worked tirelessly, focusing on her paper rather than the anxiety-thoughts that demanded to be heard. She worked until dark, when she went to the deli to get two tall boys. Maybe Mr. Hyde hadn’t left after all.
When she woke up the next morning, she laid in bed, writhing in agony. Why had she gotten drunk? Why had she gone back to the deli for more beers? Why had she texted her ex? Why couldn’t she just get it together? And this is how she lived, not happily ever after, but anxiety forever.