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Dead Bug


Artwork by Joanna Chen, staff artist

This time, you have no other choice but to fall on the floor, hug your knees to your collarbones, hold your breath close, and melt yourself into a puddle.


Last time, you were a mountain of shoulders poised in their sockets. Your back divided itself into shades that splayed below in pockets. What has been broken into fractals is lost in the shuffle.


And you are now a dead bug at ground level, looking up at a blank sky and burning, only wishing to be pulled under the soil. A moment ago you felt just fine before your cheeks found a new flush of red. All that rich color quietly caves in.


Your feet fall into your calves. Your calves into your knees, your knees into thighs, thighs into hips, hips beneath your body. You fall into place.


In the biome of your brain, a dead bug deserves to be eaten. If not, it will turn to dirt, inseparable from the surface I step on. Once you have fallen, you have failed. Once you have fallen, so has your path. Once you have fallen, you are nothing but the gravity that pins you down.


Let your arms and legs lift above you, to obscure the white sun on your ceiling. Let your stomach tighten, rip open, and release its sway on your heart.


I’m sure it feels like your limbs are floating. Four pendulums suspended upside over. At this point, you are free of control, although you know that you cannot grow under the whim of fluidity.


You love being small but seen, a bothersome speck, everything too much yet not enough. If you make a mistake, no one bats an eye. Your fall is not worth the talk. Not worth the woe or the why… or the wait.


Listen to me. I’m right in your face; I’m bruising your tail; I’m grinding your teeth. It’s all for a reason—In these times alone, I almost feel your skin on my own bones. I almost always want to hug them too.


And I’m sure it feels like you’re flying because someday you will. Or so that’s what I’m supposed to say to help us heal. To tell you the force that folds your body is anxiety in the guise of gravity. To tell you the tension in your core is strengthening, that pain is temporary. To tell you that freedom is not a mirage, that you move the strings on your own feet. As if that would ever get you up.


Why won’t you get up? Why won’t you get up? If you are so formidable, why won’t you get up?


Last time, the choice was all mine.


This time, the choice is all yours.


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