Headaches

I get headaches when it’s warm.
I get headaches when it rains.
I get them in spurts. A week at a time. I went years without but now they have come back.

I wonder if it’s because I smacked my head against the tarmac that time I jumped too high and was unable to successfully navigate my way back down. My brother laughed at me, more because I was wearing my mum’s culotte suit from Jaeger, and he thought I was weird. I was 11.

I remember when I had my first ocular migraine and it went black and I fell down the stairs. My boyfriend laughed at me, thinking I was stoned. I thought I was blind.

When it came again I was on the top deck of a bus that was taking me to a modern history seminar. The bus stopped and I sat there, in darkness with my eyes open. Once the professor kept me back and asked me if I was ok and I cried. He didn’t think I was reaching my potential. He told me I could tell him if something was wrong. I thought maybe the pain came because I was so sad.

I remember the time I angled myself down onto the cold concrete outside because it was the only place that could soothe the burning that was inside my head. My cheek and arm took on the patterns of the ground. The concrete was so beautiful. The greyness a solid comfort that I wanted to hold tight to.

Now I’m older I lie in bed with the blinds closed. I put sunglasses on and pull the covers over my head and my boyfriend tries not to laugh. I try not to breathe.

It’s hard to explain. The pain that finds a crack and works its way in. A warning sometimes comes but often it’s too late. It clambers around, tearing at the layers I pack around myself. It throws the duvet off and yanks the pillows from underneath my head. It picks and peels away until its fingernails are bleeding. It gets so close and I wait for its bloated, febrile hand to plunge further inside. To take it all. And then it stops and I want to be sick.

Afterwards I feel like a child with a fever. My eyes stick together. My skin feels worn and used up. Strange old memories poke at me, like a reminder of who I am. It’s as if I’m rebuilding and must gather all the pieces I can find. Memories of being precocious and booky. The names I gave the first litter of kittens our sweet cat gave birth to under the tumble dryer – Cinders, Midnight, Echo and Claus. The story I wrote about dinosaurs. Dreams about Zola Budd. The book we made about bears.

Sometimes I crave the fizz and smack of sugary orange liquid and dream of Orangina but it’s too hard to find so I settle for Fanta. And then I wait until enough time has passed that I feel the safety of myself again. Until I can take my body back. Until I can breathe out again.

Write-off

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