The After After

by Ariana Kara

The light, even with my eyes closed it’s too bright, it sears through my lids. My mouth is dry and bitter; I smack my tongue to the roof of my mouth, a useless hope for saliva. I need water. Eyes half closed I stumble to my bathroom to turn on the tap. Putting my mouth directly under the faucet, cold water pours out and it’s pure relief. The crisp liquid washes over my ragged throat for what feels like hours until I finally pull back. Wiping off my face with a mildewed towel I’d left on my floor the other night I catch my reflection. All dark circles and messy hair. A familiar pang of panic fills my chest. I push it down.
The rush of water filling my tub drowns out any thoughts and instead targets the humming pain behind my eyes. I start counting in sets of 30s 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Repeated 3 times and shut off the noise. Lying in the water I can already feel it begin to turn to lukewarm soup. Occupying myself, I try to grab at the stray hairs and soap scum floating near my thighs. I pick up a strand and can’t seem to wipe it off on the ceramic edge so I dip it back into my wading pool. I plug my nose and lay my head to the bottom of the tub. Counting to thirty
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 what number was I on 22 23 24 six more seconds 25 26 27282930
the tension leaves my body with one breath.
With an effort I heave myself out of the water, that’s all I get today.
A sequence of iridescent pearls cascade from my hair onto the yellowing linoleum. Expanding like spilled paint as they touch the tile.
I wrap my hair up in the mildewed towel – cutting them off.  
Kicking dirty clothes and crumpled papers out of my way I head back to my room and sink into bed. I’m tired. It would be nice to lie here forever. I’d lie here until my legs formed clots and my bones peaked out from under my skin. I’d eventually crumble into the dust of my worn mattress. Floating around in its creases in a mindless haze.
I reach over to my bedside table and sling back the pills, taking comfort in the familiar knots sliding to the back of my throat. I wait and wait drumming my toes under the sheet
It hits my fingertips and my touch turns welcoming
it hits my chest cutting the strings and the air rushes in
it hits my head and I’ve been broken open again
I’m invincible I’m thriving
Everything around me is merging with my palms, I’m the walls I’m the makeup caked in the pores of girl lying beside me. Everything begins with me everything ends with me even when it’s supposed to be for her. It’s all magic now how the peeling plaster is talking. Direct communication one way while I keep it to myself.
Rise and fall her chest is my pulse struggling to jump. I’m up and down with it I need to find my way to the sky, to stand on the tops of the counters and reach as high as I can. She’s watching me now but I can’t look in her eyes I need to climb. Nowhere is up now its turned and I understand the sky doesn’t want me
I turn to look at her frown
Her eyes turning into mine
Before she speaks I’ve already returned to bed.
Shutting them
I hope for a tiny death but my eyes can’t separate from what she’s seen

Ariana Kara is an 18 year old Greek-Indian-Canadian writer living in Vancouver BC. She is powerful and will protect you. Since tweets don't count this is her first published piece of work.