Thin-skinned: Chapter 1

 

It takes a whole lot of energy for me to open my eyes every damn morning. My whole body aches and I can’t comprehend anything. It’s like I am in a world totally different than what I am used to. I am awake, my brain is awake but I refuse to get out of bed. I fool myself to sleep over and over again while in fact I never slept. My eyes are closed for hours and hours but I can feel everything, I can hear every sound no matter how soft it might be. I can smell the air, the horrifically suffocating air. I can’t believe it is the start of a new day. Once I realize that there is no way out for me to escape this day, I decide to physically wake myself up. I have to live it just like any other day, wishing it will all pass by so fast that I wouldn’t even be able to remember the good from the bad.

I opened my eyes and the sun rays felt like a bullet shot through my eyes and out of my head. So, quickly I put my palm in front of my face to cover my eyes. I feel safer now because I love the dark; no one can see me and I can see no one. I part my fingers slowly to expose my pupil to the sharp sun rays. It is ironic how I love the warmth that comes from the sun and hate its light. It warms up my bed and my cold body wherever I go. As soon as I put my legs on the ground, my cat came running, meowing so loud and cute as if he was making me feel guilty for not waking up earlier to feed him. Anyway, I carry him on my lap and rub his fur with my fingertips and grab my bag off the ground with the other hand. I pull my cigarette pack and snatch a cigarette and the lighter out of it and put the pack back where it belongs. As soon as I lit the weapon to slowly kill myself, the cat jumps out of my lap. He stood for a while on the floor looking at me with his eyes full of reprimand. Even my cat judges my addiction to cigarettes.

Addiction is a pathetically overused word that focuses only on drugs and alcohol but aren’t we all addicted to something? I mean someone can be addicted to sleep a.k.a. oversleeping or to going out a.k.a. an extrovert! But our society loves to focus on the drama that surround alcohol and drugs!!

In fact, I am not addicted to cigarettes but it helps me burn time. It helps heal the pieces of my shattered heart…I mean my shattered life. I feel the smoke penetrate my lungs and run through my veins and I wonder if that brings me any closer to my grave. My thoughts hit its brakes once my eyes meet the hands of the clock. I get the biggest reality check, screaming out, ordering me to get up and get going to work. Work is another interesting ideology. People work to earn money right? No, I work to fill my emptiness. I work to put myself in denial and push away my tears. I know if I stay jobless, my thoughts will wrap around my head and my feelings will pull tighter surrounding my neck. And that will be the end of me…..that will be my strangulation.

I step out of bed and open my wardrobe. It is peculiar how it reflects who I am; so perfectly dressed up and tidy on the outside and messed up on the inside! I stand for hours wondering what to wear and I suddenly decide. Just like every decision I make. People think I react without thinking wisely but truth be told, I think a zillion times before attempting a task and that’s why it hurts so much if I fail. I grab my black pencil skirt, red top and black blazer; just another reminder of today’s meeting. I enter the washroom to get ready for the day and jump back to my safe zone-my bed. I search for the masking tools; my moisturizer, foundation, red lipstick, powder, eyeliner, eye shadow and so on and start painting a happy smile on my hopeless face. When I’m done, I dump my necessities into a chic red hand bag and hit the road.

My energy for the day is already consumed by the extreme traffic jam. I’m stuck on the road, chasing cars with my wheels. The sound of a loud horn cuts through my thoughts reminding me of the meeting. Oh no, it is a presentation that I need to catch and I hate to show off but I am the only one who actually works in this damn company. Amazing!! now that I have reached my destination, another parking task consumes what’s left of me. I hurriedly bang the car door and run to my clients to find my boss standing right there, checking me out (not in a good way though). You know when a man can’t get in your panties and all he does instead is get in your head, trying to manipulate your thoughts into thinking you’re worthless and everything you do is crap. Yea…that’s my boss!

After the meeting, I drove to my office and of course my boss tries in every possible way to turn up before I do so that he has a reason to criticize me…. I mean he can add a reason to his list of criticisms!

“God! I have been holding my breath for hours!!” I said out loud to myself

As soon as I entered the office, I winded as I was trying to collect the largest amount of air possible inside my lungs…. I hold it in and breathe out… I didn’t realize how shaky my hands were until I took that last breath. They seem as though they were put on vibration mode. My anxiety reached optimum when I heard a knock on the door that was louder than my own heart beats. When I saw it was Mr. Dave Marvin (my boss) at the door, my heart got stuck in my throat, expecting an ample denigration. The words that came out of his mouth took me by surprise…..

“You did a good job today!” said Mr. Dave very superciliously

“Are you serious?” I asked…not sure if I am being sarcastic or am I asking for his reassurance.

“Yes” he said “…but you just have a bit of flaws here and there. First…. second…. third…” and I stupor.

I can’t hear anything of what he is saying but I quietly observed his mouth move. I clench my teeth and cringe, trying to pull myself back to consciousness but I fail. I woke up lying on the office ground, unable to comprehend the scene I am in. Mr. Dave at my feet, a nurse near my head and another nurse measuring my pulse. I try to bring the pieces of puzzle together in my mind until I jerked my body, pushing everyone away from me (especially Dave). I can’t really understand what has happened yet or why did I black out. I am very confused and I somehow feel changed.

I am not the same person, something feels different. I just can’t pinpoint it down. “I am ok!” I am not sure whether I am calming myself down or If I am answering Mr. Dave’s annoyingly repetitive question, asking if I feel fine now. “I am fine!” I say repeatedly as I stand on my feet, gripping onto the desk. I enjoy the color and texture of this desk. It maybe random but it is one of the things that I really appreciate. It is warm beige in color and feels as though it is laminated with a luminous finishing spray before it was shipped here. I love the smell of the wood; the older it gets the fresher it gets. I finally manage to sit behind my desk and start wrapping my mind around my tasks. I take out my note pad and start listing down the things I need to work on [telephone calls, proposals, press releases]. I closely watch the tip of the pen, piercing onto the paper.

“It’s wonderful how the ink comes out, gets absorbed by the paper and expands!” I think to myself.

After too much focus on (the pen and paper) completing my to-do list, I lift my eyes off the paper to find the office empty. Where did Mr. Dave and the chipmunks (nurses) go?!

***

Mai Elsayed

A Mass Communication alumna from the American University of Sharjah. Loves writing about human related stories and factors that affect our psychological well being such as relationships, love and family.

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