what does the day after look like?

by áde aura inés victoria

at first it is furied, distorted images crossing paths like impatient cabs weaving through intersections— both holding something, someone, trying to get somewhere else. i toss and turn with no destination until i am finally transported through the night to the darkness of my eyelids.

i hear muffled voices and outside sounds but haven’t yet succumbed to opening my eyes, as if seeing the remnants of the night before sprawled across my bedroom would be the only thing that’d make it all real. the scattered images slowly piece themselves together until not even shut eyes can hide it: i tried to die. i am still alive.

fine, then; my eyes reluctantly spread open, nestled in their swollen sockets. these eyes are not mine. the love of my life/ex-partner inches away from me. “i’m running late,” grabs her things, walks out of the bedroom, and my only chance of that small pulsating glow of mid-crisis relief slowly closes the door behind her. the throbbing surfaces. the ache so deep, i hear its echoes resounding through every crevice of my defiantly warm flesh.

maybe twelve hours ago i knelt before a wet sheet of paper covered in scribbled apologies and i love yous, bracing myself for the frigidity of a distant world i was ready to depart to. and today, is friday. my child is at school. my co-parents are each at work. my laundry is in the dryer downstairs. my dog’s bowl is empty and she is waiting to be walked. i’ve had a hair appointment scheduled weeks ago for today, at 12 p.m. i don’t know what today is supposed to look like, but this isn’t it.

half the reason i didn’t agree to admitting myself to the hospital last night was because of this fucking hair appointment. i am my grandmother’s granddaughter. if i’m going to be adorned in hospital bracelets, my hair will need to be just as attended to. i don’t know what i’m supposed to do today, but sticking to this appointment seems like a pragmatic decision.

i am sitting in the chair making conversation as i watch my smiles and occasional laughter in the mirror. i am grateful my hairdresser does not seem versed in the duchenne; this faux joy is not mine. this jovial woman blesses me with her focused care and genuine passion. i wonder if she has ever tried to die before. i wonder why i’m bothering to cut my hair. every second i sit in this chair is a second i get closer to bursting. i don’t know what the dam will let out: sobs? a scream? a visceral collapse?

there is a psychic next door and god, i need direction more than ever. a gritty $10 for a palm reading sign walks me through the door. the psychic is rushed and cold. she looks at my palms and scurries over words like “love” and “health” and in case she hadn’t lost me already, she asks if “this is about a male?” for today it’ll be $40 and i do not have the smallest ounce of energy to ask why or push back. i don’t have cash; her card reader is broken but there “should be an atm next door, if not down the street.” when i return with the 40, she does not answer the door. i knock, i ring, i wait. i wait. nothing. ok, so, i’m not going to risk mal de ojo. i can’t. i sigh and slip a $20 bill beneath the door. that other 20 — is not hers.

the highway home whitens my knuckles almost as much as my reluctant “does your day include me?” my once future wife nonchalantly explains her work schedule —( i always see this coming) — and how this and this and that and i’m shut the fuck off. i’m alive, goddammit. you held me almost lifeless just last night and today i am alive and today you have errands to run. i try my hardest not to let the oncoming flood obstruct my view but i want to be cradled. i want to be in a bed surrounded by angels and the loves i’ve lost. i want to be offered a warm meal only to refuse it but fuck, water would taste so good right now. i just want to be held in my desperation and hopelessness. i want any winged or non-winged figure to lean over me and assure, “today, i take care of you.”

i crawl back into my chrysalis, the only safe place for an oozing pupa to be. i am limp and disintegrating; this body is not mine. my eyes have become the watering hole my worst fears drink from–never thirsting, never lacking. i still want to be dead. i’ve had no day-after epiphany. no lamp to rub.

i am heavy with the unbearable weight of still, want, to, be, fucking, dead.

but my child is having a birthday party in a couple weeks and i have to finalize the goody bags and decide where we’re getting the cupcakes from.


áde aura inés victoria (femm/femm): áde is an indígena creator, destroyer, healing conduit, decolonizer, mother, femme. you can follow more of femm's work at pordiosa.com or on instagram @pordiosa.