Disappointment. Head to the wall horizontally in a series of repetitive motions. Pee in a cup wrapped in hospital gowns deposited at the nurses’ station with glazed-over 5am eyes. Disappointment. Five minutes alone at the computer feeling nothing but the impending sense of always being alone. Head to the wall. Nail into skin. Chipping away at the tender flesh of your left thumb until the blood stains your homework and your fingers. Disappointment. Every moment that the universe gets bigger and every moment you get proportionally smaller. Disappointment. Rolls of fat over waistbands that used to be baggy and loose around your hips. Disappointment. Another discourse on discontent calculated to be empathy-inducing and measured for shock value. Empty old phrases stained with STALE in red pen across the raw manifesto of your being. Disappointment. In a bathrobe on the front stoop at sunrise waiting for the world to stop spinning you nauseous. Alone in the shower with your flesh and your scabs wishing the hot water to never run out. But for now, disappointment.
1. I’m not better than you.
2. I’m not better than you.
3. I never said that.
4. I never said that I’m
5. I never said that I’m better than
6. of you never suggested you’re sicker than
7. me let’s not play games I hate measuring
8. it ends awkwardly
9. and that’s not my inten
10. tion I’m caught in
11. ner turmoil but that’s nobody’s
12. and it’s nobody’s
13. my lack of connection my
14. of trust I don’t trust you
15. want to show you my lack of
16. or to tell you my fears about
17. or admit that I’ve never had
18. we stick to the surface but I can get
19. now I can get elsewhere the truisms
20. ven what’s underneath I can speak now
21. I can speak now.
22. I’m not
23. better than
24. but I am better than I was
27. I can speak.
My intestines are boiling hot and sticky as I stand on thefrontier of this discharged life with empty palms, no manifest destiny just dead space that threatens and leers and mirrors my beating heart my blood pressure no longer recorded in the book of my instability. I stand here in lieu of the chair that while mostly for show was also a prop of our unbearable frailty and the stiff little gowns we’d wrap twice around our bodies baring shoulders and vulnerable thighs I stand and long for the relapse.
The shame of it shakes me but still I long for dead-end days and time elapsed of hackneyed sap along the walls we’d already smeared with fingerprints of urine samples and crumbs in crumpled napkins, crumbs, that cold clandestine sweat of midnight push-ups in the dark, your eyes alert, I, sleeping on the other side of the wall though not so innocent I’d done planks on my bed as I read I’d done wall-sits while brushing my teeth while watching the hands tick two minutes on the clock and time elapsed in weekend misery we’d sat together in stewing silence, grease like stones in our third-world stomachs, one of us contractually obligated to be crying in a corner at all times. We’d spent four precious minutes of our slow slow slow Saturday flat on the couch with the cuff strapped to limp left arm and I’d taken pleasure in the sound of the velcro ripping apart as the bones of my left arm rejected medical confinement there on the couch feeling the dead space soft and stable between my thighs.
And you with the sideways glances, the can’t-you-just, the holier-than-thou, may you never feel the weight of the world in a teaspoon of butter, may you never see your roommate abandon her faithfulness for the price of a quarter cup of cheese. May you never may you never may you never may you never in all sincerity but also in admission of the fact that we still feel jealousy for the dying we still feel envy for the one with the tube dangling in one nostril we still feel whole-body desire for an inability to take the stairs we still have tangled knots of stomach-suctioned relapse buried deep under layers of supplements and pasta things we never wanted there latent impatient for the ticking clock to blow for me to slip from this predator-bait caravan back to the devil I know.
Hannah White is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and an incoming M.F.A. student at Temple University. She works at the Kelly Writers House, in Philadelphia, and has interned at the University of Pennsylvania Press. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Word Riot, The Sensible Nonsense Project, Cleaver Magazine, Gadfly Online, Apiary Online, Penn Review, Rainy Day, Thickjam, and The Birch Journal.