Wednesday, June 26, 2019


My brain on fire,
I walked through the front door
of my studio apartment,
turned on all the lights that worked
and threw myself onto the bed,
staring at the white popcorn ceiling,
looking for the usual comforting
patterns and faces
but instead finding accusing stares
and pained grimaces.
A little to the right of the light fixture
in the center of the ceiling,
something new:
a black spot,
about the size of a dime
from where I lay.
Was it a bug? A spot of mildew?
I couldn’t reach it even if I stood on my bed,
so I tried my best to ignore it,
turned on my side
to trace the paths of the cracks in the walls.
My heart pounding, sweating.
squeezed my eyes shut,
then out of curiosity,
peered over my shoulder
at the black spot on the ceiling,
which seemed distinctly larger now.
Which is impossible, right?
A trick of the eye
or maybe I hadn’t sized it up
correctly to begin with.
But I watched it grow larger
before my widening eyes,
spread like a dark pool of blood
above me.
It started dripping down on me,
thick, viscous, oily, foul-smelling.
I leapt out of my bed,
watched the substance rain darkly
onto my comforter and sheets.
Most of the ceiling was black now,
and after a while,
most of my bed was soaked.
I couldn’t breathe from the odor.
Coughing, gagging,
I ran to the kitchen sink,
turned on the tap
to wash my shaking hands.
Dark sludge poured out
in a steady stream.
I looked down at my hands
and my clothes,
and the black drops on them
were drawn to each other,
pooling together.
I furiously wiped my hands
on the legs of my dirty jeans,
stripped down to my underwear,
kicked the pile of tainted clothing away.
I walked out onto the balcony,
mostly naked,
closed the sliding glass door.
I looked down on the street,
slick with rain,
the coffee shops and restaurants
where all the lights were on,
honking cars
brisk pedestrians
everyone with plans
and places to go
and people to meet.
My couch, my stove, my television
now completely submerged,
the pressure building up
against the door,
I was unable to control the tide.

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