Happy Holidays Literati!
Thorn is letting me post my own submission. It’s a bit on the heavy side of things, but the more I read it, the more ‘set free’ I feel. This is the power of the scribe in action, and transformative. So, apologies for the gravitas. But thanks for the audience.
A Conversation with Pain
By Tiffany Vakilian
No one expects Pain to show up dressed to the nines, but mine did. She stayed in character, wearing my ills, oopses, and consequences like swirling fabric. My ill-used hips in chocolate leather, my scalding throat, fire red, Emerald jewels of emotion, scarves of scars. She was always on the cutting edge, dressed to kill.
Dressed to hurt.
The knock didn’t sound normal, so I knew. There she stood. Fierce.
Camel skin peep-toe stilettos held up flowing, woven cream pants with an embroidered peasant top—the acute swirls looking like an umbilical cord. It was a shade that made you consider blood, then disregard your thought and call it burgundy. The jewelry was sparse but intricate. Rose gold earrings, necklace, bracelet, and ring—a Celtic depiction of mother and child. Her bag was studded, and bulky, but set the outfit perfectly.
The top was the color of my son when he exited my body, the size of my slender hand, wrist line to middle fingertip. The rest were representations of excruciating spasms and emotional states, my mutely colored agony.
I didn’t invite her in, just unceremoniously locked the door behind me as I pulled it closed. “Where are we going?” I asked.
We grabbed muffins and coffee from Al’s café off Carlsbad Village Drive, then drove to the spot and parked. Count on her to want to try and stain one of my places of solace.
“You need me,” she said as the engine shut off.
She shot first. Good.
“Not like this.”
“Wasn’t it the pinched nerve in your back that found the cyst in your ovaries in ’04?”
“You couldn’t have just—”
“Just what? Told you there was a battle going on in your body?” she said, “Told you how you were dying?” The crystal tear in her eyes jolted me. “I am…it’s…like connection. I connect you to yourself…others. To life. To time.”
“What if I don’t want your kind of connection?”
“Well, that’s awfully convenient.”
She sighed again. She turned to me, her fingernail grazing my elbow. It zinged with discomfort. I remembered how Mom would talk about how it was, sometimes, funny to bang it.
I snatched my arm from her fingertips. “Ugh. You are a pain in the—”
“Yes,” she chuckled, “I am that too. I am nothing if not nuanced. But if you lived only by sensation, then I’d agree with your rage.” She paused. “Think of him. Aren’t you glad for that pain? For every part of it?”
I closed my tearing eyes. My heart cracked open again, but it felt strange. Sweet. I didn’t know what to say. I would rather have felt that pain. Had those few weeks. But now…
“It’s all just so…”
She reached out again and touched my heart, her palm resting on the new brokenness, pushing against the love.