by Nicole Easterwood Thomas

I can feel the heaviness again.

I am driving down the road

at ninety to nothing,

flooring it so I can get home,

so I don’t have to do this

in the middle of the road

alone.

My sister’s there.

She knows what to do,

what to say to me

to make me begin

to calm down.

Even if I don’t tell her

what’s going on.

There is nothing here,

but blackness

and my mind

is pacing back and forth.

I keep trying to figure out

what triggered it this time

so I can know not to do

whatever it was again.

But each time

it’s something different.

Each time the “thing”

that makes me feel like I am

losing

control

changes.

I can’t pinpoint anything anymore.

I can’t figure out what it is this time.

All I can see

when I turn around

each corner is

fail,

Fail,

FAIL.

Like nothing I’m doing matters

and the sea of brackish water

is consuming my lungs

when I am mute.

Like all it would take

to make all of the tension

and pulsating stop would be

making a stop by “Blunt Guy’s” house.

I could waste away

into the pot

and the alcohol and,

for a little while,

I wouldn’t feel like

I was dying.

The offer is

so tempting.

Then I think of Jake

and my mentor and

what they would think of me

if they knew all of this,

but I can’t take all of it anymore.

I look in the mirror

and I see a stranger,

someone who

could not possibly be Nicole,

someone who should not still

be here in this town,

someone who should

be gone by now.

And Jo is the only one

who really understands

that I can’t be

in this house anymore.

That even driving is a task

and my chest is still heavy

and stomach churning

as I pull in the driveway

and try to breathe,

breathe,

breathe.

SongSamantha Schutz