Affect and Embodiment

I lay in the bathtub thinking, being. My head rests on the porcelain base, soft water nuzzling the sides of my face. The contrast between sensations — hard and soft — makes me feel unease; as if to relax into the warmth of the caressing water would inspire the hard porcelain to reach up and bash my head. I’ve been here before. 

As my head cautiously begins to relax into the water my ears begin to fill and empty, pressure building until the pop. Isn’t that how it goes, pressure before the pop and then relief? I can feel the waves form around me from the expansion and collapse of my lungs. The waves start to move me. I make the waves that move me. There is peace in this. I sway to myself.

I stare up at the shower head. It drips gentle drops of water. I don’t feel them. Can I be just Erin? 

I take a breath to speak. The air rushes in and weighs me down. Is it the outside that has come in, or is the weight just me? I fade bearing the weight of it. Of me?

Cancer.

Is it death?

The familiar burn comes. It starts in the middle and stretches up my neck, fills my ears with fire. My heart beats purposefully, hard. My vision narrows and expands simultaneously. I stare up at the shower head as the pieces of stability under my feet crumble and give way to the weight of my breath, the weight of my insides. I am falling. The waves from my lungs crash against my face, tickle my nostrils and threaten to pull me under, against the hard porcelain. 

Hard porcelain. I pull my legs into the waves with me, place my feet flush against the smooth density. I am aware of the warmth in my body, pressed against neutral, dead clay. It is enough to slow the thrashing, the beating, the burning.

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