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String Theory

By Sonya Huber

That which does not kill you makes you shudder, makes you flinch at sudden movements and tall men and deep voices and the smell of hard alcohol coming through someone’s skin and anything hovering over your left shoulder, makes you startle; makes you sit on the kitchen floor crying with a cup of water, fishing the bottle of Klonopin out of your shoulder bag’s front pocket as your throat closes and you say to your windpipe it’s just panic, with your laptop open on your thighs writing about Septimus from Mrs. Dalloway, makes you tell yourself how wrong it is to write about him in this kind of mood which is more of an infestation or a torrent than a feeling; makes you worry your teenage son will come in and see you on the floor crying and then makes you think you’re a bad mom merely because of the PTSD when of course other parents have it but also of course each of them is eating Cheetos in the garage and crying into the orange dust or running their knees into patella fragments or drinking in the laundry room or working until their eyes ache, all to blast it all away; makes you imagine a toaster trying through willpower alone to rewire itself and stop burning the toast; makes you tell yourself that you’re so broken you will need to be cremated at death because these molecules should not find themselves into another human body so soon, they need to be rocks and clouds for an aeon first, cleansed with bracing winds; makes you wish for the kind of mask other adults have crafted but that you took apart and threw away so you could breathe but now of course you are a child, a flower without skin; makes you cry before meetings because any hint of manipulation or shaming or aggression just takes you apart; makes you hate yourself for not being the kind of adult with a squint and a swagger and Teflon coating; makes you long for retirement; makes you know with certainty that you do not want to live forever because the string of frights get tangled and knotted into clumps and those clumps, not atoms, are the string theory that holds your ball of ache together.

Sonya Huber is a nonfiction writer whose books include the new Supremely Tiny Acts: A Memoir of a Day and Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System, and she tweets a lot of true nonsense at @sonyahuber and she thinks you're great for getting through the day.

Photo by Sonya Huber.


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