Baby Steps

by Owaiz

There are five sticky notes on the wall at the other end. I can’t see what’s written on them but I know what they say. They state the days: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

Each day is followed by the same thing. The initials of a client and the words I’m supposed to ghostwrite for the book, broken down in baby steps. If I stick to them, I will get the work done on time.

The days are going by so slowly, so fast. It feels like the days of my life are levels in a game. A fake blue sea on the screen of an iPhone 6+, tiny yellow cartoony islands with red dashes connecting them. I am a boat, and each day I am on a new island. The islands are infinite but I can’t look back at the ones in the past or the future, just the four islands fixed on the screen. Somehow, the boat is always on the second island, then the third island which becomes the second, and so on. There is no transition or the boat sailing slowly to the next island. There’s just Xanax. Today I’m on the second island, tomorrow I’ll Xanax on the third. I open the screen and the boat is on the next one.

I know this is a bad call, but I can’t put up with myself. It happens so suddenly, I don’t know what hits me. It happens everyday. Suddenly my mind goes haywire and the child is there, tugging at my shirt. Suicide, suicide, suicide, he says. He tells me how to do it. He’s smart and gives me the best methods, then practical methods, then the easy methods, then he finds the flaws in his own methods. So I take a Xanax to shut him out, to shut my mind out, to shut the world out. Hours will have passed and the boat will have appeared on the next island by the time I wake up. That works for me.

The only other thing that works is reading. I read as much as I can while I have the energy. It keeps me distracted, focussed on another life. Then I’m tired and the child is there.

I can’t eat. It used to be different. I used to not get hungry at all so it wasn’t a problem. Now I get hungry but I can’t eat. Eating takes so much effort and strength, strength that I don’t have. It drives me mad, tearing morsel after morsel of roti, dipping it in the gravy, lifting my hand to my mouth, putting it in my mouth, chewing a little, pushing it down, repeating over and over. The OCD fails here. I don’t finish the roti. I give up. Tired, I stop eating while hungry, obsessively wanting to finish the roti, giving up anyway. Fuck it. Xanax. I’ll Xanax my way out of it.

I wake up, have a cigarette, and fall asleep again. Then I wake up and repeat. Then I wake up and stay awake, trying to work but not working till it is time to Xanax again. I try watching things but nothing holds my interest. TV is boring, music is noise, movies require too much concentration.

In the back of my mind there is home I long to return to. It is at the very edge of the forest, a 10-second walk. It is a wooden cabin, safe from everything, no dangers exist. Inside is a sofa and a fireplace, a bedroom with a bed with a lot of quilts and blankets. It’s cold and snowy and the forest is green. Right outside the cabin is my own garden where I grow my food, and inside the cabin are the books on a table by the three-seater sofa. It’s heaven.

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