CW: Discussion of anxiety
The heel of her hand pressed hard against her cheekbone, wiping upward, switching to dabbing at the corners of her eyes with her pinky, examining her damp fingers before using her wrist to wipe her nose. She cried sitting up, he was laid down, head propped with his wrist. The blankets pooled around her, it was embarrassing to be so naked – literally, with her tits out – nose running as he rubbed her back gently, murmuring “there’s nothing to be embarrassed about, it’s ok to cry, I don’t mind”.
You climbed off of me and asked, “Did I hurt you?” And I couldn’t stop crying, but I couldn’t tell if it was worse than the time I thought I had farted.
Weeping while reading advice columns, amalgamated caramel and nuts pooling at the edges of your mouth where you bit down ‘cos the Snickers bar was too cold and hard to bite with your front teeth. Now you’re crying a bit, and your nose is blocked so you’ve gotta cry open-mouthed, and you’re dripping melted chocolate onto your fresh sheets.
Saw a man with the most hideous dreadlocks I’ve ever seen and started crying again – the coffee shop would not stop playing Ed Sheeran, Ed Sheeran all the time, every song Ed Sheeran, and in the car the radio played only Ed Sheeran.
A poorly written caricature of a woman stars in a cinematic vignette, stumbling around her apartment in hysterical tears while cleaning up dinner plates and empty bottles of red wine, flinging herself into her bed before sitting, hands over mouth in the shower as though the water were the birds, and she, Tippi Hedren.
Somewhere in the background a television plays the 2014 remake of Godzilla starring Bryan Cranston. The sky is purple through the large windows, and it’s too hot for clothes again, so she sits on the tiled floor, head leaned on the side of the washing machine, the metal cold on her cheek. Bryan Cranston is crying; his wife has died; it’s very upsetting. Nothing is wrong, besides the passing of Bryan’s wife, but perhaps the medication has stopped working, perhaps her brain is still crooked, perhaps she hasn’t been eating right.
Narita airport, more than I had in months, heaving, heaving, salt in my mouth. Two suitcases, one small, and a backpack full to the brim with souvenirs and jumpers I needn’t have brought with me. You had been ordered to another terminal and I’d never been alone somewhere foreign, even though I was 22.
Lots of people were staring but no one was helping, but it was OK. I didn’t want help, I wanted you. I didn’t yet know that the desperation for you was actually panic, that my aching knuckles were clenched fists from anxiety, that my nausea was from not eating, not drinking, not breathing slow enough. The week earlier you had held my hand across the gap between our beds until I fell asleep.
Once I checked in I lugged every bag with me into the ladies toilets and napped for 30 minutes, my t-shirt soaked with sweat and dread.
Rebecca Varcoe is a writer and events producer from Melbourne. Her work has appeared in Meanjin, Overland, frankie, The Saturday Paper and more. Tweets and links on twitter at @bvrcoe