Muscles pumped full of lead. No, heavier: Plutonium. Filled with liquid hot metal until they might burst. Heavier than anyone can imagine, aching, about to strain, buckle, seize up with the slightest movement. Ready to sprain with the slightest stretch, no tone, no strength. Climbing stairs is climbing Mount Everest.
Slurred words, room spinning, head aching, chest tightening, heart leaping, entire body shaking, vibrating. Internal tremors making me feel unstable.
Chills. Bone-chills. Shivering, unable to talk, nose going to shrivel and fall off, can’t breathe, freezing feet going to shatter into pieces, ice water running up and down my spine, head fogged over with frost, scalp taut, ears infected with cold, ice water spine, ice water spine.
Then, fever heat. Body on fire. Feet going to explode from the pooled blood, eyes burning, brain swollen. Spine and neck blistered with white-hot embers, waiting for bed to burst into flames. And the sweats come. Sweat running down my chest, pooling in my belly button. Sweat behind my knees, my lower back, above my top lip, in rivulets down the sides of my nose, my hair and the base of my skull drenched.
And I’m shaking, reaching for water. I don’t want to die. My palms are sweating and my throat is sore and I’m so thirsty, but can barely drink. I have to go to the toilet, but don’t think I can make it. I have crawled to the bathroom with concrete blocks tied to my arms and legs, while someone is spinning the room around me and zapping me with electrical current and blowing a dense fog ~ more like a smoke ~ into my ears and up my nose and down my throat, so I can’t breathe and I can’t think. It feels like what I imagine encephalitis must feel like. Meningitis. Botulism. Typhoid. Consumption. It feels malarial, paralytic, neurotoxic.
I just keep thinking, I don’t want to die.
Two hours ago, I was chatting on the phone to my mother. I was throwing a ball for my dogs. Without warning, I have to go to bed. It’s like a huge finger is pressing down on me and all I can do is go to the ground. If I try to get up, the whole hand holds me down. Huge hands holding me down so that every movement takes more energy and effort than it ever should or ever has before.
I watch someone run up stairs on tv and my eyes tear up with desire and jealousy. All I want is to be able to stand for a while, laugh without noticing because it’s not a rare occurrence, talk with friends without my throat turning into sandpaper and my back seizing up and having to go straight to bed from the exertion. All I want is to sleep. Sleep deeply. Without nightmares. And sit without pain, walk without breathlessness, feel light again, like those hands aren’t holding me down, like I could skip or twirl. All I want is strength, stamina, health. To live life without the fear of repercussions.
To live life. To not die.