I am lying in bed with my arm pressed against my ear when I hear my pulse strumming like a finger on a stretched out rubber band. Da dum, da dum. Da dum, da dum. Da dum, da dum.
I stopped caring about this body when it started shaking like it wanted me to split in half.
There are days when I am able to speak. I tell the barista I want a white chocolate mocha. I ask my professors to explain the essay prompts. I say excuse me when I round a corner and almost run into another student. The words are quick and sharp but still, they bear themselves up in the lush vine of a full sentence, and I thank that loud noise inside me for at least one moment of calm.
On the bad days, breathing is the first thing to go. The moment tastes like salt water. My cheeks get so hot that I swear the blood must be pushing through my pores, a cruel blush. I command my lungs to inhale, the breaths deep and stiff. I gulp down oxygen, then shove the carbon dioxide out.
Anxiety is a noise that my body can’t let out. All I do is shake and sweat and breathe too fast.
I am falling.
And even though there are days when I’m as good as six feet under, I never hit the ground. This is constancy. This is frailty.
I am lying in bed with my arm pressed against my ear when I hear my pulse — da dum, da dum. Da dum, da dum. It’s been a while since I cared to listen to this body.
I zero in on my heartbeat, listen to the movement.
Da dum, da dum. Da dum, da dum. Da dum, da dum.