By Zeyneb Kaya

Winter awakes from my window. Wires fall from my heart and coil through white sheets. A crimson-red wristband attests to my captivity, shackles to my freedom. My eyes are red-rimmed and swollen, salt on my cheeks. There are fears that spin around in chaos in my mind, of what I know and what I don’t, tearing at each other, havoc inside me. It’s a prison, with no escape, locked in the stinging smell. I can’t meet their eyes. I don’t want to be here. I want to go home. 

It’s an illusion of order, the schedules, vital signs thrice a day plus one at the wake of dusk, sky dark and fluorescent light flashing, blood tests and little plastic pee cups in a pale gown dotted with tiny flowers, shivering and blue. Deceptive numbers, heart rates, and percentages of whatever it is they’ve stolen from me, turning me into a form of digits and graphs. They mean nothing. I still know nothing. 

It’s too loud. The monitor pulls me from my sleep at midnight with blaring alarms they forget to disable; something’s not right, but I don’t know why. I can hear my heart drumming in my ears with fear, but when I search for it beneath my fingers, it silences.   

I cry because I know my parents do when I’m not looking. 

I wonder now why I know nothing, why it’s fair to be so lost, why I’m trapped in fear fueled by confusion and blindness. I wonder now why it feels unsure even in my own body, why it seems like there is nothing left to do, why I am wandering in the dark. 

It’s a hover of warmth, a flicker of hope. Paper has its own pulse. It’s a cure for fear, for losing your way. Its knowledge. It’s a moment of relief, of fascination, of curiosity. When knowing nothing broke me, all that made me feel safe was trying to keep calm by learning. Although trying to ascertain uncertainty only brings more questions, that’s what makes me enjoy it. There’s somewhere to go, a path to find. What it takes is not letting go of what I want, what I need.  

The darkest winters inspire curiosity and determination

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