Failed Magic Tricks

by Hannah StarkeyMarch 7, 2019View more posts from Hannah Starkey

I’m in line trying to buy my vegetables and pay the cashier but when she says it’ll be $62.48, I shut down.
I remember I have cash and I fumble with it
and I hand her the money and when she says I’m $12 short I fumble some more to count the money
and I feel the eyes of others burning into the side of my head
and I feel the impatience so I take back the cash and use my debit card instead.

Because when she says it’ll be $62.48, I panic.
I panic because I can’t bear to embarrass myself again and I struggle to do simple math and I know I can do it if I can just think hard enough. Wait, what day is it?
I panic because suddenly I don’t know what day it is.

Please don’t ask me what I had for dinner because I don’t remember.
You got me a book of Sudoku but thinking of numbers makes me panic
and thinking makes me panic
and panicking makes me panic
and I forgot what day it is
and I know I just asked you but please tell me again because I forgot.

You’re my best friend and I can’t remember your name
and when I look at you I just see letters flashing across the screen that is the back of my eyes.
You compliment my writing but I wish you knew that most of the time, I struggle to find the words.

But then all of a sudden the words come to me.
I focus and my fingers catch fire on the keys and all of the sudden…I have the words.
$62.48? screw basic math I’m gonna do my taxes because I can think right now.
My brain is functioning and the words are overflowing out of me and for a little while, I’m back…I’m resurrected.

For a little while I get a glimpse of myself.
My skills are back, I can think, I can write to you and I take advantage of it.
I have so much to say and I might have used too many adjectives
but its been two days since I’ve thought
and its like word vomit
and my fingers are typing so fast and zombie mode is off
and I can practically feel the neurons firing and the synapses are synapsing
and connections are being made and I can remember the name of the stuff that you put on your toothbrush before you brush your teeth.

I didn’t even notice that hours have passed and the birds are tweeting
and wow…was that some sort of alternate reality or dream where I never had chemo and I never had cancer and I’m me?
And wow…its 6 am and I got so much done…
how do I make it so that I feel like that always?

And then without warning, I disappear.
and wow… I’m spaced out again and I’m gone and just like that…
a prisoner in my own brain.
Back into the dark forest inside my skull.
Back into the abyss where I’m constantly lost
and what day is it?

I know where I am but why am I here
and wow… I’m forgetful but I haven’t lost my intelligence, right?
It’s there somewhere in the abyss, right?
I’m as lost as my brain.

Lost and wandering through the seven inches of space between my ears
and the echos are so loud
and the words are so close I could touch them
and if I could just reach far enough maybe I’ll find my brain in there somewhere
and yes I’m still me but please for the love of God, don’t ask me to do simple math.

Please don’t be frustrated with me when I ask you what day it is because I don’t want to ask you what day it is.
I’m trying so hard to pay attention to you
and I’m sorry about that one time that I freaked out because I woke up and didn’t know where I was
and I cried because I was embarrassed
and I cried because I want myself back
and I cried because I want my brain back
and I cried because I don’t want to have to keep asking you what day it is
and if I could only get my brain back, I wouldn’t be crying.

Then its 11 pm and I remember what day it is
and yes I know that its Friday
and its time for chemo and i’m back at square one…
no, its Saturday and bright red liquid enters my veins…
and i forget what day it is…