Embrace: Jimbo

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    Chase
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    I don’t think dying is that bad.

    It’s running up a hill, sirens wailing, dogs barking at once far away and right behind your ear– cigarette lungs gasping, stopping, lurching–whiskey head spinning,
    punching–you’re almost over that fence, barbed wire tearing that hoodie mom bought for Christmas, the last one before the chemo, painting in dull red and copper brown
    , chest caves as you hit the dirt, the night sky’s in black and white and the pilsner sticks your leg to your ratty old jeans…but then it’s fine, you only hear the
    wind in the grass.

    Dying’s not that bad, getting there’s the hard part–but then it’s done.

    At once I think I’m flying and falling so I lay still, no bed sinking beneath me know rocky ground pushing up. There’s no stillness like it in the world with sights
    and sounds. I lay and wrap myself in a thousand blankets head to toe, no warmth, but no cold to run from, they just wrap around me like thin linen, but with a
    thousand, ten thousand I’m still naked. It isn’t dark here. There’s nothing to see, not the floating gunk behind my eyelids, I’ve never seen stillness before.

    And wrapped in sheets and naked I could but I…

    I’m not alone here.

    I feel it watching but there’s nowhere for it to hide and nowhere for me to run.

    I hear it’s footsteps but there is no ground, hear it crawling, scratching across the nothing, breathing down my neck from nowhere but I cannot turn my head. And all
    that’s left is the churning behind my eyes screaming “Run!” but I can’t feel my legs, and the soft sheets hold me down but they can’t protect me. It’s hands are cold,
    I can’t feel my skin only its wriggling, cringing away but the hands are groping, grabbing, scratching undisturbed that I am not there. They curl over and through my
    absence…just stop…just let me sleep…I am nowhere but there is nowhere safe, nowhere they do not grab and probe and pinch…they are in what’s left of me,
    wherever I once was but they persist past whatever boundries a helpless body may have offered and I cannot struggle, cannot scream, cannot bite my lip as they push
    through what isn’t mine anymore to think of, feel anything else. I am full and empty, pushed, pulled, ripped and stretched smooth like a wrinkled cloth lay over an
    old table.

    And as it traced an icy, sickly, whithering trail through my naked nothing, I couldn’t scream so I remembered screaming when my mouth forced open, it was not my doing.
    The shout I dreamt of calling out I quickly tried to smother, anything to close a last unviolated boundary in my…but it started with a drop. Like smothering thing
    spit a drip of Uncle Jack’s chew down my dry cracked throat and it burned and I wanted more than anything to wretch. But my throat would not gag, would not expel the
    rancid fluid crawling, wriggling growing down into my gullet, as I pushed it pulled back and forced itself deeper. Every push away thrilled it forward as it burned,
    leaving itching, weeping blisters, each secreting it own fetid bile, each itch only scratched as grew and writhed, splitting out like dark roots tunneling through my
    ruined body.

    And I could not fight or thrash but it let me shiver just enough as it gorged and my eyes spun looking for something…anything to feel something else, the sulfur
    smell of a shotgun blast with boiling bubbles on stubs of fingers, a crunch as my nose split and head cracked on the pavement while the cousins rained down fists and
    kicks and Memaw shouted more…and suddenly I lurched forward…dry heaving at the filth in my throat and in my nostrils, pulled up by my guts as the sheets began to
    fall away.

    But then hands held me fast, not the icy talons, but warm, strong hands pushed down of my shoulders as the others pulled upward and whispered in my ears, “You can do
    it…you can take it…” and I lay with all my strength against them. But up I went, all my weight was nothing as the deep, fungal roots in my belly pulled me upwards
    the hands holding me slipping…I didn’t want to go just…just a little more…and they slipped away…

    And I saw at once a blurry light, cold air rushed into my lungs and I could feel my chest closing in, a giant weight from all side and a soft, gravelly voice. My
    voice, like it had been shouting at a match for weeks on end…

    “Jimbo, you done fucked up now.”

    I’m sorry…

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