I Wonder

*Reader Submission*

I can no longer pound my feet into the pavement until the thoughts in my head match the pace of my feet as they escape my mind, as they are wiped from my soul, as they float away from me like puffy harmless clouds on a clear day.

I can no longer clear the water with my bare hands to pave the way for my body, for my will, for my determination, for my passion, for my grit, for my anger, for my energy, for my. self.

I can no longer push the weight off me with my raw skin until there is nothing left, until the pads under my fingers tear themselves open, until a new delicate layer emerges that becomes stronger with time, until the limits are shattered and I am unchained in my own skin.

I can no longer push and pull and press and sprint and reach and race until the comforting burn of fatigue and power ignite my body as it molds itself into the physical representation of the battle grounds within - where casualties become a mere rung on the ladder used to fuel the creation of strength.


All of it


Inch by inch I watched it leave as the ominous storm clouds moved in with nothing to stop them in their wake.

The sky became darker, the air became thicker, the thoughts became deeper, the pace became quicker, the pain became clearer, the fear became stronger, the rage became truer.

The blood within me has changed. This battle has a new leader – one with anxious thoughts, and deafening cries, and hollowing misery, and all-consuming rage. I am at its mercy—


I say.

The field is rushed with assistance.

Breathe. He says.

I understand what you’re feeling. She says.

I have no idea what to say. She says.

Well he’s obviously depressed. She says.

What would you diagnose him with? She says.


I say. (softer)

Breathe. He says.

Here’s a tissue. She says.

I cannot relate. She says.

You know, my family was crazy too. She says.

He did this to himself. She says.


I whisper.

Breathe. He says.

It’s a wonderful day outside. She says.

You know, I used to feel like this when I… She says.

My mother was absolutely crazy. She says.

It’s not your place. She says.

--Can they feel that?--

I wonder.


Can they see it?

Can they sense the literal distance between us?

The gap now. The gap where there was not one before.

There is a shift.

You did not hear me.

You did not understand me.

There is a difference between you, between me.

You are different than me.

Which means I am not like you.

Which means there are other people like you and not like me.

Which means you are like the others and then there is me.

Which means

I am alone.

My body becomes my armor. I retreat into it - like a shelter.

Like a little girl afraid of a big dog.

Like a grown man afraid of a small spider.

I am a piece not belonging to the pictured puzzle.

Jumbled between boxes until it no longer travels into homes that are not its own.

Breathe. He says.

As if air alone could bridge the gap and reconnect it to the original picture.


As if air alone could heal all the cracks, and splintered pieces, and gnarled edges.


As if the air could fill the cavernous void within where the only sound is its own eradication of tears.


As if air alone would quiet the thoughts, soften the rage, expose the fear.


As if air alone would halt the endless whirring of spiraling patterns and statements and emotions and blame and responsibility and guilt and anger and misery and shame.


As if he doesn’t see the distance between us now.


As if he doesn’t know that it’s all I see.


As if the air given could make this moment be gone and our lives would resume as this omnipresent window could be forever closed like an old chapter from a children’s book we have grown far too much to read anymore.

Breathe. He says.

Here’s a tissue. She says.

I cannot relate. She says.

You know, my family was crazy too. She says.

He did this to himself. She says.

And as I sit from the depths of the cavern that has become my shelter, I wonder. The space is enormous – the cave is tall as it is wide. Darker where I stay, further where I am. They are within my sightline, but feel farther than before.

I hold my knees to my chest. So the darkness will not consume me, so the fear does not engulf me, so the isolation surrounds me and I wonder,

How would all of this be different if someone laid their hands to the ground, placed their gifts at the door,

and sat with me on the floor.


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Baltimore, Maryland