I remember being thirteen and coming up from the depths of our backyard pool after holding my breath longer than any human being ever had. I expelled my lungs’ dead air, inhaled desperately, and put my forearm down on the pool deck, on a bee’s upraised stinger.
I watched my arm speedily swell to four times its normal size.
When I went in to show my mother, she had an anxiety attack and my father had to drive her to the hospital, me in the back seat, proud of my Popeye forearm, until my throat began to close. By the time we made the emergency room, I couldn’t breathe. I fell down in the lobby and began to turn blue.
Nurses and doctors ran to where I lay and my father cried, It’s her, not him!
In the starless night of your body, thousands of inflamed nerves glowing red. Global pain. No barrier between you and it. Fatigue, insomnia, numbness, tingling, migraines.
I mourn my dentist. She kept working through the pain of fibromyalgia. She wasn’t only my dentist, she was my lover. She overdosed on nitrous oxide. I didn’t know she was so unhappy over my refusal to get my teeth fixed.
I was too afraid. The thought of her working on my teeth filled me with terror. I look like a big, strong man, but I’m terrified of dentistry.
She was a petite woman. She had the most delicate wrists I’ve ever seen. They filled me with tenderness. I wanted to please her, but couldn’t consent to dental surgery.
I just couldn’t.
I guess my refusal filled her with despair, and the overdose was most likely suicide, though I would never tell anyone, not a detective, not her mother, no one.
The introvert withdraws from the babbling world. Loathsome is the word that best describes that place. People make his skin crawl.
In his workshop are guitars in various stages of completion. Redwood, rosewood, maple. Bodies and necks.
But Life hacks into you, just as you’ve found your identity, just as you’ve crafted the small details, refined them, sanded them down. Like an identity thief, Life hacks, wanting to steal you away, with His twin brother, Death.
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over twelve-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for numerous prizes. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To see more of his work, google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver.