CHARCOAL …art by Nevena Van As

Her fear and frustration just plain SUCKED the life out of her! She could no longer cope, and only could mope, and the feelings just left her physically and emotionally depleted. Her mind and her body had aged and deteriorated. Along with any abilities she once had. Loss of capacity no doubt. You’d be this way too if you had to deal with so much anxiety for so long, and put up with the actual and very real sensation of alarm bells going off in your head and chest, every day and night, all the time.

Perpetual panic in the first degree.

When she looked in the mirror she saw nothing. A hollowness and emptiness stared back. She made a concerted effort to deliberately peer into herself, to see herself as she really was, to find herself again. She missed her. She’d been doing this all the time lately but to no avail. Blocked by something, unable to see anymore. As if there were real happenings between her eyes and the mirror, trauma and her past just dancing and suspended there. Enveloping her.

Black charcoal, just a blank.

The doctor said he wasn’t sure why she was always burning up either, that there was nothing physically wrong with her and it was just her imagination. But her skin felt like flames and looked crimson. It was swelled and it hurt. This morning before her shower, she was determined on some level to try once again to get out of this hellfire.

More of an effort than she was given credit for.

The pills used to help, well in the beginning anyway. At one point she believed they were like a landing strip, where she started to feel comfortable again living in her own body. But now she wished for a rope, but instead reached for the soap, and turned on the water in the shower. Stepping in, she let the hot water run over her head and long hair, her tears along with it, allowing the pressure and the temperature to wash over her. She looked down at her feet, and saw blackness and fire swirling down the drain. Some temporary reprieve from the agony of her being, the mere reflection of herself that she’d become.


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