By Chloé Cela
resistance as a survival mechanism and the breaking down of that
mechanism after becoming a dialysis patient in my thirties while
waiting for a kidney transplant.
The doctor says: “it’s time.” His words
flutter into the air, I watch
them smack against the wall and crawl
into corners like anxious lizards.
gives back blood
I open all the windows, air
the room and find the other end
of the street.
At the restaurant, an old man
sitting alone at the table
next to me says: “I’m leaving soon,”
at his walking cane, holding on to
the table tight with both hands.
“You can stay,” I smile, my lips pink.
— I am so funny; it’s Friday
night and I am trying to be
a casual member of this
restaurant; a perfumed woman,
eating steak rare because
she lost so much blood it hurts
“You mean if I pay I can stay,” he chuckles.
He’s eighty, maybe older.
“Love your outfit,” I say, “nice badge.”
“I used to wear a hat too.”
“You are a cowboy…”
“Yes,” he smiles, glowing now.
At night I am a mummy wrapped
in blankets. The cold seeped into
my bones. No hot showers or cups
of tea or long-distance calls with
my boyfriend in India rub
“It is an internal cold,” the massage therapist says.
“It is an internal cold,” the nurse says. “It happens with dialysis.”
It happens with dialysis
that you lose hair
loss of appetite
loss of sex drive
of kidney function
as the machine takes over.
Eventually, you can’t pee
anymore, like the Lean Man, who
sits in the chair next to me, who
is ghost-like pale and thin, who is
been doing this for thirty years.
He has the best chair by the window.
The news is on and the Lean Man
wonders out loud: “why are the negroes
still poor, while the Indians and
Chinese are doing so well?”
My body stiffens; loss of appetite
makes me stop correcting him, and
watch him like a TV screen, old
white cowboy channel.
Home I leave the windows shut and
walk straight into bed. Outside car
light dances silhouettes, traveling
over the sheets, the floor; laughter
of women, then silence. I drop
my shoulders and cry.
I read today: let go,
let god. I wish
I could, just
stretch my fingers but
never touch the cookies
the tea, lots and lots,
the woman – there’s always the woman
I admire, some version
of save me, from this knot twisting my stomach. A movement
towards the many things, again
abandons me, disorients, tightens the knot, and I forget
who I am. Clinging, resisting,
cycling the streets, a grey holding
a heavy emptiness something holding it together before rain will crash down, I cycle
as fast my body can push, push it through…
(If I just
“My craving is how I know me,” Jimbo advises; Jimbo my friend my priest on Skype talking about the original loss of the gift
of wellbeing. The loss
of not being well-nurtured as a child and so I ask
the cookies; something
Nibbling on bread crust nibbling waiting for something, something to happen
for someone to remember how I can be useful. I can be useful, I can
do things. I can mean something not just this sitting, but how often
can I check my computer my phone for someone to remember me? It
really, is arduous and bad for the spine. Better go sit on the hard
wooden chair it keeps me collected. And just like that I leap off and
I ask the fridge
ask the internet
ask the waiter
ask the cup of tea
ask this woman, that woman. Any woman.
“You need to toughen up,” a colleague at work advises me, but
I stay tender, stay begging; feed the emptiness,
I ask all these things, people and things, but I would very much like to release
them from this hunger. Every time I’m over there, I have, again
abandoned me. I would like to stay
with me, just stretch
my fingers and meet the hunger, let the hunger itself
be my destination.
published in The Nervous Breakdown, Entropy, The Sunlight Press, and
elsewhere. She lives in Belgium, writes in English, and swears in
Italian. You can find her sketches on Instagram.
Sami Holden earned an MFA in Screenwriting from UC-Riverside at Palm Desert and is the founder of The Tiny Tim Literary Review. Previously she was a dating advice columnist for The Good Men Project’s column - Dating in the Digital Age with Sami Holden as well as the press and social media editor for The Coachella Review. She wrote a blog for a number of years called Chronicles of Cheerful Clotter for HemAware Magazine, where she detailed her life with chronic health conditions. Sami is also an associate producer and press manager for the documentary Invisible: The Film, which focuses on individuals living with chronic pain and invisible illness. She has served on the Board of Directors for the National Hemophilia Foundation, spent time as a Senatorial intern, and was Miss Wisconsin for the ANTSO program. In addition, she has had articles published in Chronicality, Elephant Journal, The Glow (Australia), I.G. Living Magazine, The Manifest-Station, The Mighty, National Pain Report, Ravishly, and YourTango. Her interests include ukuleles and sloths. Find her @SamiDan19.