This is deafening. There’s a steady ring, almost like a siren without the changing notes, rising in the back of my head; just where my spine meets the bottom of my skull. It’s rising upwards and forwards, and I can’t help but feel on edge. My skin is crawling. It feels like it’s stretching against my bones, like I’m growing exponentially and there’s no way it could possibly fit me anymore. I feel like I may just blow up. There are so many people talking, it sounds like a beehive. It’s noises like these that make me fill up. In my head all I can see is the same video playing over and over again. It’s me, and I’m yelling, and stretching my jaw further and further open until it just snaps and dangles there. I’m like a fire hydrant filled with light and sound, I begin to crack at my joints and split open as white and noise spill out of me. No, no, no.
“Are you alright there, bud?”
“You just said no, no, no.” I can barely hear him over the ringing in my head.
“Yeah. I’m fine.” I can tell by the look on this man’s face that my own looks humiliated and appalled that anyone would need to ask. He’s standing above me, which doesn’t help with the inferiority complex. I am indignity.
“Ok, man. I just thought I’d ask.” He’s southern, his accent contorts his words and elongates his vowels. He sounds stupid; of course, he very obviously has a knack for recognizing and addressing a mental health issue. His mother was probably ill. My father was ill. We won’t connect.
I would move away from him, but there are waves running through me. They come from the bottoms of my feet. It feels as if the blood, or whatever is inside me, is running so close to the surface of my skin, it moves every insignificant hair on my body as it flows up to the crown of my head. I can feel his gaze still on me, eating away at the skin on my cheek. He’s waiting to see if I’ll talk to myself again. He’s honestly worried. I’m honestly annoyed. He wants what everyone wants, something crazy to happen to them in person. Everyone bases their life on entertainment. Someone else’s mental breakdown in public becomes your very own reality show, starring the southern, idiot savant. Psychologist to the world. I have to get away from hillbilly Freud as soon as possible.
The blaring rises. The screeching pushes against the back of my face. My eyes feel like they’re going to shoot out of my face. Like my forehead is going to open up and my frontal lobe will flop out onto the gray and white tile. I stand up; it feels like I’m swaying. I’m probably not. As I begin to make my way I can feel my toes clenching at the soles of my shoes. Any tighter and they may rip a toenail off. I’m only semi-aware of where I am. This is because my brain and eyelids are in the middle of a great civil war. The small part of me that still values self-preservation wants my eyes open so that I can see what to avoid as I step meaninglessly through this crowd. But then there are the other guys, my senses, which are about to abandon ship. Everything is running full throttle currently and if we add visual to this equation my terrible hallucination may just come true, and I would cover this whole crowd with everything that is awful inside of me. I’m hoping the heart will give in soon and write the treaty, I know he won’t be able to take much more of this. The way my chest feels, he’s already involved in a coup that entails smashing my sternum to bits.
The chatter; I feel like I can hear every snap of spit and every click of teeth in the room. It’s overwhelming, the meaningless dribble that’s being slathered about, squishing in and out of people’s ears, sliding over their brain, staining coherent thought, and then dripping out the other side. Words blending together, vowels mixing and consonants smashing and breaking one another. I cover my ears. I hear muffled “hey’s” and “watchout’s.” I tell myself to keep moving, although, for all I know I’m just wandering in a big circle. That’s when I hit my head, I can hear the knock on the back of my skull and it reverberates through my nose. And just as this happens my head is drained, everything that once was filling up so much space inside me feels as though it’s just drained down my spine and pushed out the middle of my back, returned to a world where it can actually fit. I open my eyes to see black hair, with a hand threaded through it, quickly turn into a porcelain, pale face. Her mouth is an oval. I hear nothing. My heart slows, and I feel as if I’m glowing. A subway car pulls into the station, my skin relaxes and it feels as though the air that the car brings is flowing right through me. The soothing scent of hot metal, of blood, pushes past me.
She’s talking. I am somewhere else, completely. Until she pulls my hands away from my head.
“Are you alright?”
I think before I answer, “I am.”
“You look delirious.”
“I feel delirious.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry. Well, I was having an awful time, but it seems almost concussing the both of us really turned things around. Who knew you could change everything by walking around with your hands over your ears and your eyes clasped shut?”
“Are you always like this? Or did you befall some other head trauma just before trying to knock me out?”
She’s beautiful, “I wish I could answer that truthfully.”