It’s been a while.
I awoke to you last night, your invisible inky tentacles winding their way around my limbs. You squeeze me from my sleep and my eyes open to a world that’s not right.
He feels me from his side of the bed and lately my every move wakes him, like he’s afraid that maybe I’ll disappear for good.
“You ok?” he asks.
I’m twisting free of your grasp, remembering that breathing long, slow and deliberate exchanges of oxygen for carbon dioxide loosen your grip. But you reach for my neck and it’s slippery with sweat and I can tell you’re pleased with the panic rising in my throat.
“I just can’t get comfortable,” I say, because telling the truth would be absurd. Your most striking feature is how strong you are when it’s silent. You make the quiet a cacaphony of alarms no one can hear because they’re only in my head, and they scream that nothing’s wrong and everything’s wrong and don’t say a word because this is our little secret.
He doesn’t see you thicken the darkness into cold metal shackles, or the way my eyes clench shut in defiance of your temporary imprisonment. You and I have this dance we do, and for a moment I’d forgotten the steps. I forgot about the way you dragged me around the dancefloor in the dark, leading me in the most lonely and suffocating choreography. You used to tell me lies when we were here, whisper in my ear about my crazy. I can’t believe you’re back for more after all this time. You should know, though. I’m stronger this time.
Remember, I tell myself.
Remember this isn’t real. Remember what is real; what was real. Remember. The silence is no longer full of you; instead it’s punctured by each beat of my heart as I breath in, hold my breath and pick a memory. You fade. The memory wins. The anxiety is gone.