By Ashley Groth

Her bones rattle against each other, clinking like glass, they bump and rub at the joints and wear themselves down, and now little of them remain. Marrow leaks from the cracks, pooling in the interstitial space between muscle and skin. It mixes with the blood, replaces the blood, the cells die and nothing replaces them. Hollow, she floats, her bones are those of a birds and flight is no longer reserved for them.

Transparent is a pale beyond illness and her pallid skin aches for moisture. It blisters in the sun, bubbles red and angry, but she refuses to aid it and it weeps pus from the sores. The first God before all Gods, the origin of energy and light, the Sun that gives life has been rejected by her and she takes great pains to ignore it, something that gets harder the higher she flies, the closer she gets to the thing she craves recklessly to abandon.

There are demons inside her, demons that sleep, that cannot be exorcised. They are tangled in the threads of her, the thick roped chords of her and the thinnest fibers that hold her together—tangled like a kite knot, unsure if it can ever fly right again—these demons are ruthless and when they wake they drown the Sun, blocking its light. A different light bathes her now.

Without the Sun, she can be unstoppable.

Weak with malnourishment, mind over matter is her mantra and she settles into a restless sleep that leaves her aching:

In which her muscles twitch in uncontrollable, violent spasms.

In which nausea makes her nauseous makes her more nauseous still.

In which an emptiness that includes life is not empty enough.

Sleep has become a dangerous thing, a thing she cannot get enough of, yet at the same time makes her wonder how far she can press her mind beyond the limits of the body. Pushing and pulling and movement fails, she wonders if this is what a lucid dream is like until she does not wake up. Clothes drape from skin that hangs, her stomach turns and she is reminded of the present: a time she fights in vein to forget. The future and the past, this “now” has no place here, she buries it and grips herself: a broken thing she created years ago.

Her nails are brittle and scratch at hardened flesh. She pulls at her hair and wonders how she’d look bald as clumps fall into her hands. She drinks cup after cup after cup of cheap black coffee, it burns her tongue and she revels in it: how many cups before there’s nothing left to taste? How long before taste flees like the rest of her senses? She is consumed by hunger; food devours her from the outside in. She paints a picture of her body with a pallet of numbers: calories complement a measuring tape secondary to a lump sum scale that demands reverence with it’s bright blue scripture that blinks beneath her naked body.

Sitting and drinking, she’s covered in bruises: large and purple and spotted sick yellow. They cover her legs, hips and back where bones bump through her flesh. She wonders how long she has left before she is released from the physical body that she damns with every passing thought.

From the vital signs, she’s already dead.

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