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anxiety5.jpg
Art by Lonni Lees 2009

“Anxiety”

Melanie Browne

 

“Yesterday I felt like I was walking around with Caimans on my feet

just waiting for me to drop something edible so they could snap it up

with their hungry jaws, leaving me without hands."

 

He squinted down at his own words. He had written this on the inside cover of the Gideon's Bible at some point during the night. Watching CNN until after 4:30 in the morning, he was absolutely certain that he had seen Wolf Blitzer in a hang gliding dream that woke him. It was now 8:30 and he felt thirstier than he ever had even though they barely drank half a bottle of champagne between them.

He looked at the faint blue writing.  It was half cursive and half print, a hybrid he had picked up as a habit and never dropped. He ripped it all up except for the words "yesterday I felt." He was shocked to see the word “felt” and the fact that he had written it gave him a sudden jolt.  He wished he could slip a hand under her gown to confirm that he was still alive, and that his hands were still useful.

Last night had felt like a disaster. Conversation seemed strained and yet he could tell that she was trying. He saw her eyes locked on him at dinner and when she laughed, it felt genuine. He hadn’t been able to stay hard for her. She was beautiful and he wanted to vomit at the thought that she might think he was useless now. 

She was still asleep. Her MP3 player still raging in her ears, he had no idea how she could fall asleep to any kind of music. For him, it so stimulated his mind that even mellow jazz would keep him awake, but she had gone to sleep listening to Bitches Brew.

He grabbed a jacket and the hotel room card and slipped out in the hall, stepping over the newspaper bulging with Christmas advertisements and children’s letters to Santa. In the lobby, the cell phone in his pocket began to vibrate.

He didn’t recognize the number but out of loneliness he answered.

           “Hello?”

 The phone went dead. No reception.

He craved orange juice. He sat down in the lobby and stared at the fire aglow in the gloriously-decorated fireplace.

A gigantic gingerbread house was being admired by several toddlers with moms in tow in the center of the room. Gingerbread houses made him feel melancholy. He had always wanted to make one growing up but the walls never stayed put.  After that, he just ate everything out of frustration and disappointment. He won a gingerbread house at a school cakewalk once. It was wrapped with tons of cellophane paper. It crinkled as he had carried it home, beaming from ear to ear.  

Someone was coughing loudly behind him. It sounded like they were going to cough up their last remaining lung. He would give up both lungs to rid himself of this crushing anxiety.  He had failed at many relationships because he over-thought them all. He assumed the worst with each and every woman. Each potential romance dead before it even began. With her, it was different. This time he vowed not to think. He was determined not to drag toxic slime through this woman’s heart. 

He walked back to the room with a plate of muffins and desire. He picked up the newspaper and quietly walked in the room.

She was awake now. He read her one of the letters to Santa, gave her a bite of muffin, removed her panties and entered her.

The MP3 player continued to squeal on the floor.

 

 

 

Melanie Browne mostly writes poetry. Her poetry can be found in  Mad Swirl, Commonline project, and Poetry Superhighway. She has poems forthcoming in Word Riot and Tipton Poetry Journal. She is a native Texan.

In Association with Fossil Publications