I am here. Here, I tell you. Inside. You have to look deeper. What you see is my body, but you need to look closer. Look at me. Look at me. I am here. I’m still here.
I’m looking out through two eyes that are bright as day and want to take in every rose petal, every ray of sun, every line on every face of everyone around me. But those around me are sombre, and I know why. There is something wrong. Very wrong. I am dying.
My body is giving up on me. Parts of it are paralyzed, or at the very least are stubbornly ignoring my every command and making me work for the smallest movement. My voice is nearly gone. I can only make myself heard by whispering as loudly as my lungs will allow. And even when I force out the air with all my might, past the raw hoarseness of my voice, they still don't understand me.
I am locked inside the prison that is my own body. Yet I can look down on it and still see it as it used to be, walking, skipping, dancing. But no more. I am weighed down, unable to move; my own body is slowly turning on me, attacking me from the inside.
I am angry. I am furious. Damn everyone and everything to hell for allowing this to happen. To people. To me. Is this the Grand Design I’ve heard so much about? What did I ever do to deserve this? Just you wait until I get up there or wherever, and whatever and…
Well. All I can do is lie here, watching; feeling. The progress that death is making cannot be reversed. It cannot even be halted or at the very least slowed down. I am wasting away, and I can’t tell anyone how fast this is really proceeding. There is no pause, it won't relent. I have no say in this, except that I am not ready. I don't want to go. I'm not done yet. I disagree, I veto this, for God's sake!
Locked in my head I am resisting with all I’ve got. But the fight is starting to seep out of me through the catheter. I am on the losing side of a battle I never wanted to fight. I struggle with all my might, but it is useless. Bit by bit, cell by cell, piece by piece I am being destroyed, betrayed by my own flesh and blood.
My mind is in a meltdown. My brain grasps the concept, but the insight is too shocking and it recoils in horror, quickly hiding in the darkest recesses of my skull, desperately trying to think of other things. Happy things. Memories. But those are unreachable. Access denied. All I have left is to silently witness my own demise, fully aware, yet entirely powerless.
I am still here. I am still me. The spark that animates this goddamn body is still aflame, but without the body the mind loses its anchor. It starts to drift…
Did you know there is a strange face with two black lines on the wall, exactly where the clock used to be? Strange. Inside of me, there is a deceitful emptiness. An all-encompassing nothing. A hollowness that is gradually expanding. Inside and out. Rambling.
Bad cells are duplicating, invading every bit of tissue they find. Growing and dispersing and eating away the good bits. I can hear them. Gnawing and chomping. Tearing and munching away. Pushing and proliferating. A warm tear seeps from the corner of my left eye. My vision is blurry.
But I still see the pity in their eyes. A soft, unspoken pity. Tolerance. Hopefulness, but of a dying kind. Helplessness. Resignation, perhaps. Understanding, but misplaced. They don’t know. They can’t know. Impossible. Such a short space of time. So little time left.
A whitish grey fog surrounds me. It must look as though I am utterly calm. As though I have finally reached a state of acceptance. Like hell I have. Do you hear me? Like hell I have! But of course you can’t hear me. Beaten down, trodden down, entirely incapacitated. There is nothing left now but to…
Maybe I should accept it. Reconcile myself to my fate. Shut down before I go completely crazy. Just let it happen. Let it be. But I can’t. I am not ready. I. Am. Not. Ready. I can’t stop this brain from thinking. I cannot stop experiencing the death of my own body, and I cannot but disagree with it. Strongly. Vehemently. With every atom of my heart and every sliver of my soul. At least one of those is still mine. Untouchable to this unseen enemy.
No, I cannot give up. I am far too angry. Anger will carry me. Although I am tired too. Exhausted. But yes, angry. And therefore I refuse to give up. I won’t give in. Not until it’s
* * *
This short story was published in the October 2014 edition of The Opening Line Literary 'Zine, which had the theme 'Fear'.