You do something, you do it right. You study, you learn and you wait. You practice; practice until you’re sore all over, aching and so tired you can’t stand up. You work your mind, you think and plan, write none of it down but repeat it and repeat it to yourself. It has to be so clear, so right, so exact it sinks into your memory as old knowledge, as instinct. It becomes something you are, something you don’t need to recall because it is natural. You do it so hard and so long you can’t breathe and your chest is stone heavy and you feel like you’ll faint and you have to lean against the sink, press your cheek to its coolness, curled up, and breathe, in, out, in, until it slows and your mind is clear.
You say the words.
You got them from a book.
And do the thing you learnt in the class…
Isolating in your head one cool spot and closing yourself around it. Warming it in hands like a bud, an egg, then pulling it open, unfolding it in fan-pleats to shiver through you and radiate a steady, still calm.
Look at yourself, study from the calm space as if it’s a stranger face you’re seeing. Who do you see there, and is it right? Have to be ready. Here is a face that says nothing; no signs, nothing to read but vague friendliness. You must seem usual and harmless; the glasses will help because they make it hard to see your eyes.
You’ve said the words so often they make no sense. They are a rhythm now, a beat behind your mind as you open the door and close it gently behind, stepping into the street on legs which are working on their own. Feel stiff like this, like a puppet, arms and legs don’t seem to know where to go, to have lost the natural movement, rigid and robotic. And against the pulse you move, forcing yourself to believe that no one sees.
Why would they be interested in you? They don’t know. Who can know? You imagine a bubble cartoon above your head. A cloud of thoughts everyone can read. A neon sign flashing on and off, insistent and obscene. It’s not there really. No one knows. You’re nothing. Not worth noticing. Nothing until you need to be…
Stronger. Better. Brighter.
You’ve worked at this. You’ve planned. Why are you scared then?
Why does it seem such a long way? Days and days of night on the bus through the gritty dust, where the sounds outside become distant under the words in your head, where every face is blurred, cold and blind.
You have to be.
Climbing the stairs now, you look down and see the long way you’ve come. Into the darkness of your life and memory; a pit you dug.
Ahead where the light waits. All quiet around you, everyone gone except for…
Your feet make no sound. You tried so many different shoes and found that socks were best on these wood floors. Not so polished as to be slippery. But you hope to slip away.
You come up behind so soft. This one occupied chair and you might be a ghost for all your presence is acknowledged.
You raise your hand....