The choking.

There’s an invisible hand. Muscular, older, the skin is weathered. There are veins, the cracks are visible. The hand is tan, even though it is only a pencil sketch. The fingernails are broad, barely a sliver of white showing at the tip.

The choking is like this.

The camera is at my neck. I am facing away. I am in my bathroom. It is small with four lights that emit a soft orange-yellow hue. It is moderately flattering and has no bearing on daylight. The walls, painted white, give off the same carotene glow.

The mirror and sink are behind me. I am facing the toilet. I stand, but all the camera sees is the skim-line of my shoulders, bare, and my naked neck. I have short hair, number 1 haircut. It is not an extremely new haircut.

The hand emerges from the mirror/sink, but the camera only shows the hand emerging into view.

The hand takes hold of my neck in one motion. The thumb rests at the top of my neck, underneath the occipital lobe, where the skull meets the spine. There is a natural indent, and the broad thumb rests in this space.

The wide base of the hand tracks the length of my cervical spine. It is a right hand. The wrist and wrist crease of the top of the hand is not in full view. The camera should show the resting position from a variety of angles (showing the meat of the palm on the spine), but this can be developed.

The palm rounds across the base of the neck and the fingers curl around. The fingers avoid the Adam’s apple. The fingers do not press into the neck — yet. The power comes from the base of the hand and the thumb.

The thumb presses forward and up, causing the subject to tilt his head down, gazing down. The hand is in complete control over the entire body. The subject does not wrestle wildly. He feels he has been ensnared. All he can do is exactly counter the motion.

The thumb presses forward, up, and then down to plunge the subject into the toilet bowl. The subject remains static.

There are many states:

  • One in which the subject does not move at all.
  • One in which the subject resists in a silent way, a warrior, holding his ground as he knows this battle.
  • One in which the subject flails and expends energy only to succumb inch by inch, approaching the water. He makes noise but the hand is consistent.
  • One in which the hand guides the head forward and the subject resists enough to create traction, but without enthusiasm. He will still enter the water.
  • One in which the subject fights in earnest, without flailing, like a boxer. He is not enlightened. He is seasoned.

The camera cycles through each of these storylines.

Once in the water, there is the breathing.

The subject exhales and inhales violently through his mouth. Once beneath the surface of the water, the subject is not limited by the depth of the bowl. Rather, it is an ocean. It is a tank. It is a vast blue space with only a head and a hand.

The hand persists in its descent. It is unrelenting. It does not coax or cajole. It is a dull, blunt force. There is no alternative.

The first exhale takes all of the bubbles out. The first inhale brings all of the water into the lungs. With each subsequent second, the actions are more frenetic but the output is less effective. The die is already cast. The subject claws at his neck, trying to pry the fingers from their relentless grip. Nothing changes.

Underwater, the tonality of skin fades away. No tan or fair skin. Only shades of blue.

In the subject’s mind, he never stops fighting. But to the viewer, we see the inevitable consequence. Each thrash is subsequently weakened.

The subject, instead of trying to create space between the gripping hand and his neck, instead feels the fingernails around his Adam’s apple. He feels how smooth they are, how broad and evenly trimmed. There are no wrinkles from being underwater for too long. In its persistence, the hand is a source of comfort. He feels the security of consistency.

He caresses the object of his demise. He reaches back — the knuckles, the wrist. He wants to feel for the forearm, the veins, the body hair, the sinew covered in skin. He holds on to his comfort. He holds on and he lets go.

a series of letters

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