You are lying on the floor, five inches away from the mattress. It’s no cooler down on this rug, but you are not exactly in search of lower temperatures. Curled on the 6 × 4 and breathing slowly is probably all the warmth you need, possibly the one thing that matters now…but maybe you are not out for comfort in these moonless hours.
You want space to mull over, to stare your soul’s emptiness in the eye, to brood over your disillusionment without the distraction of loving arms.
Surfing YouTube puts both your battery and your mobile data under pressure, and googling your favourite musician has long become an unexciting pastime. You don’t entertain the thought of praying either; for one, you can’t help but feel that it’s an easy pathway to sleep, and in any case, you took a shot at that option hours ago, but you felt no better. You can’t blame Him though, He’s a pretty busy Being, deserving of some real slack, even when your tears soak the communion railings, even when your knees sink into the tiles.
It gets to you, looking spoilt for choice one moment and left with nothing the next. It gets to you, being overlooked again and again, no significant additions on the last Google search of your name. It gets to you, populating your blood stream with blue and yellow pills just to boost stubbornly deficient serotonin levels.
You wonder if the tight shutting of eyes and quick gulping of water is even of any use: the disco hall segment of your life ended with your early 20s and the sound of bluesy guitars make up the soundtrack for your hours now.
You’re exhausted; of trying so hard to be funny in person to correct notions of you from people who couldn’t be bothered, of having to explain why communication is a real chore for you, of making her see that when you say nothing it’s not because you’re getting drawn to someone else, of dealing with “why so melancholic?” inquiries and “I just wanted to check on you” platitudes.
You are done with trying to make yourself understood or likeable, and you have come to terms with the fact that nobody’s going to love you right, that a hundred soothing text messages will never be enough, that God himself would have to come down if the pile of broken pieces that is yourself stands any chance of ever being put together.
You’ve run out of tickets to the pity party, and you just want to be away, this version of “away” being more of a feeling than a place, that fever pitch desire to swim across planets and watch your body float from the sidelines. Colourful photos from birthdays of acquaintances on your Instagram page are unable to cancel out the greyscale that is your default hue, and you know for sure that the ceasefire from the wars in your head has run its course.
Jerry Chiemeke is a columnist, culture critic and lawyer. His works have appeared in The Inlandia Journal, The Johannesburg Review of Books, The Guardian, Honey & Lime, Bone and Ink Press and Agbowo, among others. A lover of long walks and alternative rock music, Jerry lives in Lagos, Nigeria where he is working on a novel. He is the winner of the 2017 Ken Saro Wiwa Prize for Reviews, and he was shortlisted for the 2019 Diana Woods Memorial Award for Creative Nonfiction.