Chapter 21 (these flickering insects)

I snuff life like the dawn light suffocates stars. Slowly.

I say slowly, because the longest moments I know are the ones that hurt worst.

Dear brain, you almost drowned in a river when you were little. I don’t remember much of it now. Just the unending motion of flailing, kicking against wild bubbles in the blue, eyes open or closed or you-don’t-really-remember-what-your-eyes-were-doing so maybe the bubbles were something you imagined after the sharp burning in your throat, where you choked where you tried to inhale, you were choking on wild bubbles in the blue while you kicked and flailed, that river lasts forever.

And then the surface. Someone’s hands, holding your wrists. Coughing, shaking.

I snuff out life, and every time I wonder how long that moment lasts. If it is as long as a night creeping into day.

My senses are alight in the dark tunnel. The bacteria are everywhere in the coffin, calling to me, but I push that placid, refreshing water away. I have no desire to drown today. I follow the trails outside the coffin, leaking like dripping ice, flowing out and down and latching onto something to fly away.

Those flying somethings are the glimmer insects. They’re harder to pinpoint. They don’t throng together. They flit about, flickering, dancing, crawling, hiding.

I find the first one because of buzzing wings. My lips are moving before I consciously understand where the insect is, or how diseased. The curse is flying towards the buzzing, poisoned thing, stabbing their heart and prying the pulse apart.

I find the second one because I recognize the hovering speck of diseased insect. And their heart dies where hovering specks of words find them.

I try to stop counting after two. I don’t. The rhythm of words become numbers on their own, added one at a time, imperceptibly, and I kill like the dawn. Suffocating these flickering insects.

At three, the calling water of the disease calls less. At four, the calling water calls less. At twenty-eight, I ease on my push against the disease’s call. At twenty-nine, I find the first insect that isn’t diseased.

At thirty, my lips are numb.

At thirty-one, I try to stop paying attention to where the words fly to.

At thirty-two, I am aware behind my eyelids that the gloom of the tunnel has grown faintly darker.

At fifty-seven, I hear footsteps.

At fifty-eight, I can no longer sense the squishy sensation of diseased insect fluttering about.

At fifty-nine–

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