I bruise at loud noises. The skin around my nails
is an ugly, vicious purple. It takes the slightest breeze
to send me stumbling. When I raise my wrist to
my lips, my pulse leaks out and settles sticky
between my front teeth. I’m less worried about decay
than I am about the silence that accompanies it.
The spaces my body doesn’t take up,
so quiet that you can hear my muscles
turning to dust. My body and I spend all our time together.
We know each other well, but not well enough
to make each other happy. I don’t have enough energy to be
angry, though. Sinew isn’t something to be afraid
of. We all have bigger fish to fry.
Like calling the doctor’s office. Filling out patient
questionnaires. Walking across the room. Finding a glass of water
so I can take my medicine. My body
and I spend all our time together and yet
we don’t know how to take care of each other.
My body is sick so my mind is sick
so I’m sick. The distinction matters, but only
when you’re trying to place the blame.
I’m sick and maybe I will be sick
forever until one day I die and I don’t think that scares me
as much as it should. Permanent impermanence.
My tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth.
Today I fell down the stairs again. Today I drank water,
even though it was only just enough
to keep me alive and not much more. In the sickbed, curled together
and shivering, my body and I have entire conversations
in our language of static. The empty glasses sit on
the bedside table for days, abandoned.
Leela Raj-Sankar is an Indian-American teenager from Arizona. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rejection Letters, Brave Voices Magazine, and CLOVES Literary, among others. In his spare time, he can usually be found watching bad television or taking long naps. Say hi to her on Twitter @sickgirlisms.