my throat is full of jagged, splintery pieces of metal– I keep coughing, hacking and pulling out shreds of steel wool and thick pins, bits like watch parts– it’s all jammed up in the middle of my esophagus, and I have coughed it up painfully, raising it only slightly but enough so I can reach in with my fingers to pull the pieces out. it’s terribly uncomfortable, ghastly to feel the sharp, metallic scraping, but also exquisite relief to have each piece out. sometimes, if I’m lucky, several pieces come away at once. each bit frees my throat by degrees.
I’m peeling an excess layer off of the inside of my mouth. it cuts very close to the new skin underneath, so is nearly excruciating– but, again, a relief to be free of the blockage, to be clear and vivid once more.
the 7- or 8-year-old child on the airplane is screaming– blood-curdling, lung-rattling shrieks– and then words tumbling out, falling over one another– I wanna die I wanna diiiiieeee– I want to kill myself I wanna kill myself with a knife!— shhhh shhhh, murmur murmur from the mother– mommy I don’t wanna fly– it’s scary– mother, it’s sc-sc-scary— murmur murmur– then again a panicked crescendo– I wanna die I wanna die I wa— finally muffled crying as if he’s been braced against his mother’s chest. the flight attendants check in periodically. the captain comes back. all this while we’re still at the gate, unmoving. the voice breaks your heart, its stumbley consonants, phlegmy heaves. the scream at first is that of a toddler– but then: the words. to live like this. poor, poor child.