By Marina Barakatt
It’s like I’m stuck on that ride at the fair that spins you around and sticks you against the wall – everything is going so fast and is so out of control that I just kind of stand there watching the world turn into a blur, not able to move or grab onto anything to keep me in one place. When it happens, I imagine myself with giant metal hands like backhoes that I can punch into the earth to slow things down. Then, I think to myself, I’ll have time to do everything I want to do. How am I supposed to get anything done when everything is going so fast all the time? I don’t know how anyone can keep up with it all.
Sometimes I get so overwhelmed I don’t do anything but lie in my bed. If the room is really dark and I lie still enough, it feels like the world is going at the right speed. Then I can think. Then, if the temperature is right, I can draw. Sometimes I wake up surrounded by pictures that I barely remember drawing. Those ones are always the most clear, the most representative of whatever’s going on in my head. They go into the front of my portfolio. But then I’m awake, and I have to get out of bed and get dressed and go to school and the world is still spinning at the same speed that it was yesterday. And I’m still a day older and a day closer to being dead and I still feel like I can’t breathe.
I drew my backhoe hands once. During one of those nights when everything was just right. I drew them exactly how I picture them in my head, and I got all the lines so you could tell the earth was slowing down. My professor said that it was one of my best pieces and that I should submit it to the annual exhibition. But I’m worried that if people see it, they’ll know that I’m barely hanging on, that there’s only just enough gravity to keep me from being flung into space.
I tried to explain this to Amir once. We were in his room and we’d smoked enough that I was feeling as steady as I do when it’s the right temperature and I’m in my bed. We talk about weird stuff like that sometimes. So I tried, but he didn’t really get it. He wasn’t mean about it, he just nodded and said, “Yeah, man, like…SPACE,” which was so dumb that we laughed for a while and then turned on Futurama.
Amir is one of the only people who pays attention to me. People aren’t mean, they just kind of forget about me. Not like you see on TV, when a guy tries to talk to a pretty girl and she says something really mean and then all her friends laugh and the guy’s just standing there, humiliated. Everyone is nice enough, but I think that if I never said anything, eventually I would just disappear. Once, when Amir was gone for the weekend, I didn’t say anything for three days. I didn’t raise my hand in any classes. I just smiled at a few people who said hi to me around campus. And I just pointed at things in the cafeteria. I got a pizza delivered and I don’t think the delivery guy even noticed. It was kind of nice because I didn’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing or trying to look cool, but by the end I was worried I wouldn’t remember how to start talking again. I thought I might start becoming transparent and turn into a ghost. I didn’t, though.
My dad says that if I ever want to talk to a therapist, he’ll pay for a good one. But they would just try to fix me, and to be honest I don’t know what I would do if I caught up to the world. I’m so used to spending all my time concentrating on not being flung into space. If I didn’t feel like that anymore, who would I be?
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Marina is a West Coast native living in Washington, DC. She loves writing anything, from sci-fi to creative non-fiction to romance, often drawing inspiration from the frequent travel required by her day job. Her work has appeared in such literary magazines as DistrictLit and Corner Bar Magazine. When she’s not writing, you can find her hosting bar trivia, baking something involving peaches, or bothering her extremely patient dog, Daisy. You can read more of her work at marinabarakatt.com