Hello, Pain

Photo by Leon Liu on Unsplash

Hello, Pain. I see you have come to visit me again.

Ah, but then, it seems you never actually left! You were simply hiding out of sight, waiting for the right time to show me your face.

I must say, you took me by surprise this time.

I wasn’t expecting you, going about my life as usual. I was busy, you know.

But then, I feel your presence. The first twinges as you tug at my heart. The darkness as your shadow falls over my mind. I feel your grip at my throat, the way you manipulate my breath until I am almost gasping for air.

Before I know it, you have me in your grasp, I cannot move.

I try to run, you pull me back and hold me tight, choking me.

I ask you why you are here, but you do not give me a clear answer. Perhaps it is that song you were listening to on the way home, you say. Perhaps it is the memory that paid you a visit just before I did. Perhaps, you say, it has simply been too long since we met.

Doesn’t matter. You are here, and you will not leave.

I try to forget that you are here. I start moving around, doing the things I am supposed to be doing, and yet you will not leave me alone. I feel the weight of you on my back, my shoulders, my chest. I feel you shooting down my arms and tingling in my fingers so that every effort I make is a hundred times harder than it should be.

I lie down and try to sleep, and still you will not let me be. Even after I drift off, you drag me out of my slumber sharply, with agonising swiftness, and even if I return to sleep, you have ensured that you are with me in my dreams.

Together, we explode into flames.

I cannot forget you are here.

I cannot escape you. It seems you never leave.

So, come. Let us get to know each other instead.

I see you are here. Show me your face, and tell me who you are.

Relax your grip, hold me in your arms. Let us dance. See how well we move together! It seems we are not strangers after all. I need not be afraid of you. Why, I have known you all my life!

Come, sit with me, let us talk. Tell me your stories.

You are surprised. You say I never really listened before. All you wanted was my attention, my respect.

I apologise. I will try not to treat you that way again. Now that I am getting to know you, I see that you have relaxed. I am exhausted after your visit, but I am also free. I know what you have been trying to tell me, I have finally seen your face.

And the next time you come, we will dance again. I promise.

Until then, goodbye my friend.

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Ayesha Inoon

Writer, based in Canberra, Australia. Debut novel 'Untethered' out in June 2023 (HQ/HarperCollins Australia)