The TV flickered. She began each morning with Nine Inch Nails live sets. The music and the lights helped her concentrate, to manage the pain. She could distinguish each pixel, each block of light. The pain would break up. It would become scattered, like the light, pulsing in and out. She thought she could control it.
She lost her focus, the light and pain merging. She was whole again, fixed, stable, made entirely from inflamed nerves. She let out a shocked breath, as if she had been punched in the chest.
She watched as the lead guitarist picked at the strings, as he slid his hand across the frets. She thought of how the strings must feel on his skin. She tried to imagine, closing her eyes, trying to feel a sensation she had never experienced. All she could think of was how her skin would have broken and blistered, how she would have drawn blood. She watched Reznor, staring at his skin as his muscles flexed. She felt the rhythm, she felt his smooth words. His voice was sex.
She was untouchable. Sometimes she ran her fused and scarred fingers over herself. Glimmers of pleasure in masochistic perversion.
She was to be good, she was to be pure. Sexless, but sexed.
Her skin precluded a daily beauty regime, but she still engaged in more than the routine of lancing blisters, antiseptic, and new bandages. She would style her hair, apply what make-up she could. She would float on a morphine haze, taking pride in the care it took to meet that daily performance, that presentation of self.
Sometimes she didn’t feel anything at all.
She experienced different kinds of pain, on different days. Once, after refusing the morphine, she passed out. She woke up on the kitchen floor. The honey jar had fallen from the counter and smashed, honey and glass mingling with her blood. Her face was a raw mess from hitting the table as she fell. Her lip had split open.
She pushed herself up onto her elbows. She licked up the honey and the blood. She wanted to eat the glass. She wanted to eat the glass and drown in her own blood. She wanted to drown.
Liquid was her favourite thing. Liquid was her pleasure. Music was her liquid. It slithered over her, covering her like a second skin.
She felt her body was weighted down. It was her. She was it. She folded back into her body in an eternal torsion.
She had good days and bad days. Good hours and bad hours. Sometimes she lived by the second. Each second tick-tocked, good pain, bad pain, tolerable pain, pass-out pain.
Pain is pain is pain.
She was the hazy disappearance of time in a morphine cradle.
She wondered why the seconds didn’t fold back in on themselves.