9 a.m Saturday
This is how you relieve the pain.
You rock, quickly at first so that sheer acceleration keeps you upright, and as you steady
your footing on that corner of your body that is numb-er than the rest, you slow down.
Until it is beyond your ken, beyond your knowledge, a state of meditation-like-
momentum that hare krishnas and eastern gurus strive for. And thereís this whispering
you hear, it seems to come from outside, but you know it canít, because heís asleep in the
other room and he sleeps so soundly and wakes so uproariously that you would know if
he were up. Your ears are trained on him, your entire heart is squeezing out from your
chest, between the ribs and out until it hovers somewhere below knee level, fluttering and
beating almost like a hummingbird and shivering in its own blood, trying to focus his
attention on you in a good way, a marvelous way so that he pulls you into his arms like
he is god and you can feel safe and loved and sexy and smart and witty and fragile and
strong and rational all at once like that one last moment before people die when they see
and know everything.
But he is asleep in the other room.
So the whispering must be coming from inside the bathroom. Not from the tiles, or the
toilet, or the pipes and itís too early for anyone else to be up and in the bathroom, like the
neighbors upstairs who listen to a shower radio and talk about dinner plans in the
mornings so loud that you know exactly what youíll smell in the hallway when you come
home and you sing along to the songs while you brush your teeth in your own shower
The whispering is coming from you. From your mouth, your lips, your frightened and
pained brain. Your eyes sting and are oddly dry from all the crying and convulsing that
youíve been up to. But you donít process this, you donít really realize this because the
rocking and whispering have you in this trance and you have become incredibly focused
on the one thing that will stop this pain that will let this out so that you can function.
Make some coffee, put on public radio and read, hopefully something distractingly
interesting. And you rock. And your breathing becomes even. And you open the cabinets
which are remarkably clean and smooth and soothingly white like the rest of the
bathroom and you find it in your makeup kit where you knew youíd put it when you
needed all that makeup for your Halloween costume and youíve stopped rocking and are
in the smallest ball of human humanly possibly propped up underneath the towel bar next
to the bathtub so that you can smell the shampoo and your sinuses clear and the
whispering has stopped and the air has slowed and your eyes quit stinging and you slide it
across your skin and that split opens like a slow-motion photograph of a flower blooming
on the national geographic channel and you exhale and nearly cry and nearly cum and all
is right with the world and you will be able to live. Youíve let it out. Youíve let the hurt
and the torture and the fear and the self-loathing and the disintegration of your
rationale and your esteem and your pride and your worth and your love and your strength
eek out of you almost purple. And that little bit balances what was off. You donít need to
make that coffee. You can go back to bed. With it wrapped in toilet paper in the bottom
of the garbage can and a band-aid and an explanation already forming in your head about
the dishes and soapy hands and dropping the knife and this is how you make the pain stop
this is what you do to keep going on this is how you live.
Katherine Guttman lives in New York City in a back apartment thatís unusually quiet.
Sheís been a contributing editor for Alicubi.com as well as Incomplete.net and has her
own film and television production company. She likes words and avocados better than
anything but admits to being fickle.
© 2005 Underground Voices