Shiver

She has forgotten. Forgotten what the whispers and goosebumps of touch on skin feel like,  forgotten the beauty of the ordinary and all that she used to love about the outside. The walls of normality have shrunk, have turned life into something too brittle and too fragile for her liking. But she is too afraid to push back, too afraid of everything she knows fracturing. In this broken, delicate space, she is now the most substantial thing she knows, the only thing that she knows for sure will not break into pieces. I’m untouchable, she says.

She is tired of how the outside world looks the same, even though everything has changed and everything is gradually fragmenting into disaster. She has already memorized the view of the bleak sidewalk, the dying trees and her neighbor’s empty garden. She gladly welcomes life as it comes to pass her by, whether it be through speeding cars or flying children or the shifting colors of the sky. Everything blurs together in abstraction, spinning in fast motion, but she remains still. Weighed down by gravity, her eyes cannot be torn from the vast wholeness of life that can be watched from a window.

But she lives for disruption. And one day she wakes up to a white dystopia, disruptive and beautiful all the same. Her breaths turn the window foggy, and the view has blurred into muffled whiteness. She tentatively reaches her pale, delicate fingers outside the window and into harsh reality, where the world is cold and the sky cries frozen teardrops that relentlessly sting her skin. The withering cold steals all the remaining precious warmth away from her hands, and she can only watch. She can only look on as her palm gradually grows into vibrant shades of pink and red and purple that are somehow beautiful and ugly all at once. I’m not cold, she says.

Her hand shakes, hesitates, as it makes contact with the untouched white layer that coats her window sill. She takes her time gathering up the snow in her palm, embracing the cold as it eats away at her, breathing new life into her being. When there’s no more snow left she recrosses liminality and reels herself back inside to where it’s warmer. It’s suffocatingly warm on the inside though — she is stuck with herself, tired of the four blank walls that she has outgrown. The snow instantaneously begins to dissolve into frigid wetness. As the liquid leaves chilled trails on her wrists and drips onto the pale tiled floor, she watches and resists the urge to wipe it all off, resists the urge to turn back time so that nothing will have changed. 

In a quick motion, she deliberately clenches her fist, feeling fluff quickly turn gritty and hearing the loud resulting crunch pierce the echo of silence. She embraces the harsh sting and the numbness that quickly follows, the relief and bliss of pain and senselessness. In hopes of feeling something and nothing or anything in between. She welcomes the disruption of the empty stagnancy that she could never seem to fill. Her craving for sensations, her desire to finally feel complete have been temporarily fulfilled. She is numb but she is alive, a corporeal being who can feel and touch and exist.

She opens her hand, finding that the snow is no more, leaving only a stain of spilled nothingness in its wake. She has become accustomed to the temporary numbness, to the loss of herself. She is addicted to the feeling of nothing, addicted to escape from the depths of whirlwinds that she tries to contain day by day. But eventually it suddenly stops and everything  comes rushing back. She watches herself fall back apart, watches the world shatter back into pieces as the snow dissipates like it was never there. Left in the unbearable silence, feeling too empty and too awake, she shivers. It’s just the cold, she says. 

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