Our greatest pretences are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us, but our emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there. – Eric Hoffer
The Art of the Pretender
I am empty.
The thought, let alone the truth, of that statement terrifies me. Three small insignificant words, apart they hold no threat, yet together they provide me with a bone deep chill that was impossible to warm away.
The chill drops into my belly, hanging writhing like a little lead dragon, tendrils of flame escaping its tiny snout. The fire seeps through the lining of my gut, entering my bloodstream in painful ohsopainful bursts; flooding through my capillaries until I can’t tell the difference between blood and fire. Between me and the Fear. Wheredoiexist?
Except then, mercifully, it recedes; the fire loosens it grip on my veins, returning them to a cool blue. My toes tingle, like pins and needles, spreading to my calves, my thighs. My chest escapes if flaming vice and breath returns haggardly to my burnt lungs. And everything’s ok, everything is going to be fine I’llbeok; except then I realise, its not dissolving away, it was compounding.
The fire gets thicker- tar like in its consistency- slugging up my neck, through my skull, only to reside, pulsing deftly against the back of my mind, niggling and biting at my synapses, like an insect desperately scurrying for food.
My fingers shake, residue of the fire pulsing softly softly through them; the pen gripped between their tips quivers. I press it to the pristine paper in an effort to quell the shaking, but my wrist does not sweep, my fingers do not move, and I realise once again- I am empty. A gut wrenching cry fills the air whyhowplease! and the pen is ripped from the paper, just as I fall from the table, throwing myself away. My tears evaporate before they could even form, the flames still beating in my veins almost never unnoticeable.
There was a time when I could write weavecreateimagine page after page of written art, I could compose beauty with only a swish of fingertips. But now… my eyes were drawn to the soiled paper, askew on the desk. All I could fathom was a little black evil mark- there was no beauty, there was grace, there was no awe- there was nothing nothingleftofme that I could put onto paper, nothing left, there was only a black hole, glaring up at me from what I had considered my only friend, my saviour.
The dragon unfurled its tail, stretched it wings, dug its claws into my belly and it was all I could can’t do to ignore it, to hide it, to pretend. Because the only worse thing then being empty is other people knowing that you’re empty. Helpme!