This One Time, 66

This one time the lethargy was pretty strong and I was having trouble finding the motivation to do anything. I could tell it was out of the ordinary, worse than usual, because there was a man behind me with his elbow around my neck and a knife poking around in the vicinity of one of my floating ribs, and there I was, wondering if I really ought to bother. There was a lot of pressure on my windpipe and whoever this guy was was starting to impinge a bit on my brain’s blood supply. He was saying something and I wasn’t making it out, probably some sort of language barrier thing.

And it all just felt … tedious.

I wasn’t even sure of where I was or how I’d gotten there. My body felt strange, like a size too large or too small, and not entirely under my control. Like I was wearing a heavy sack. I remember that I wondered whether I had been drugged, but the lethargy felt so similar to the crushing depressions I felt after Len left for the Peace Corps. After Grammy died. A couple of other times where I couldn’t really work out what was wrong, but my ass dragged for weeks. I remember that I felt fat even though my clothes were loose.

I have no idea why this man was so upset. He seemed strong and healthy, with a bit of a pudge of the sort that nobody really cares about. He smelled nice, but not in any kind of expensive way. He smelled like he’d been eating steak. He spoke to me as if he was angry about something. Or trying to be intimidating. Quiet, but harsh. I think I remember the word “whore”, but I couldn’t tell you in what language.

I just wanted to lie down and go to sleep. Maybe that was why he was angry. I’d had fights about that before. Or had people angry with me about it before. It’s hard to have a fight with only one person with the energy to be angry. You can have a beating, though.

I don’t know why. Maybe it was just out of habit, something triggered by his smell or the tired fighting. I could barely feel his arm around my neck or the poking in my side anymore. But I reached around behind me, righthanded, and fumblehandedly undid his beltbuckle, popped open the button on his waistband, and half-tugged his zipper down. He shoved me away, spinning us both, and when we stopped, he had my right wrist in his left hand, having dropped the knife.

The lethargy was gone, but I could see its gray iciness hovering behind the guy, like someone had turned down the volume, the temperature, the brightness on a small chunk of the world. He was angry, confused. I didn’t recognize him.

But for the first time in a long time, I felt awake and alive. There were things to do. Air that needed breathing. Suddenly I weighed nothing.

He was braced against me pulling away, so I stepped forward instead and put my hand on his chest. Slowly, gently, I pushed him back into the lethargy he had snatched me out of. I watched his chest cave as he deflated. I watched his eyebrows drop and his eyelids start to droop. One of his hands was still extended forward, the one that had held my wrist.

I took off one of my earrings, a zircon stud given to me by the boyfriend I most recently drove away with my depression. I pinched up some skin in the web between his thumb and forefinger on his outstretched hand and firmly pushed it all the way through. It was a little slick with a drop of his blood, but I managed to get the back to snap on so he wouldn’t lose it.

And then I walked away. I haven’t seen the lethargy since.


March 7, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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