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Monday, April 28, 2014

The Narrow Hallway.

Here is how it is. At least, these are the images that contain the experience for the moment.

On the brighter days, life is a hallway with peeling strips of tin foil on the walls. The ceiling is one long fluorescent light; I can't see anything but white glare. The floor is white, almost reflective, seamless tile. The hall is narrow, so narrow that it skims my shoulders on both sides. Sometimes, this opens out for a while, and the wider spaces make me want to run, test echos, slide on my knees. For some reason, I see myself wearing black cropped leggings, a short white cotton T-shirt dress, and low-top Chuck Taylors. The foil catches and tosses the light in long prisms that don't strike and don't shatter.

But then, the hall gets narrow again. I keep moving, but I'm aware of the almost-pressure at my shoulders, like people breathing on me. And the light is too harsh. The foil rustles like metal icicles. Then it catch on my hair or clothes and tears, sending that tiny shrill scream of it's silvery rip sliding like a fingertip from my sternum to my chin. Torn and featureless reflections of me catch my peripheral sight. And I see other blurs and slices in those sheets that could be me, or the continued reflections from the other wall, or something else I can't see beyond the glare. And a torn curl of foil contacts my arm just right, leaving a stinging thin cut worse than paper.

The worse days offer no wider passages. The walls are jagged vertical shoots of brushed steel. The light is gauzy and gray, and the walls give no reflection. I have to shave past protrusions, hoping no spur will open my skin. And before I see it, another sudden outcrop may bruise my chest or collarbone. All this would be easier if these rough gray clothes weren't so loose and if the floor weren't thick with something black and slippery. And if there weren't strange noises, or if I could at least know whether or not I am making them. I can't find enough flat space to lean back or to drop my forehead to the wall. I pull something in this knee and that hip as the black slick sends one leg back and one leg forward and left. A metal rod, blunt enough, keeps me from falling by digging between my ribs. If I cried, I could see even less. Somehow, I know better than to call out.