Stress. It’s on my face. In my head. I wear it. Carry it. Feel it. Breathe it. Consume it. Regurgitate it. Think about it. Dream about it. Talk about it. Talk to it. Wake next to it. Swat at it. Curse it. Reject it. And then I surrender, and embrace it. And I wait. I know there is no getting away from it. I can fight it. Drop bombs on it. Spray it with chemicals. Talk to other people about it; people that share my experience, but it’s still there. A latent stalker hibernating, letting me think I have defeated it. Once it is born, it will only lay more eggs and replicate; hundreds of eggs. Every day. Those eggs hatch, and the thing inside will scoot around like a goddamned inchworm until it finds a new hiding spot. It will spin a cocoon on my guts when I am calm, my nerves like the glass surface of a sleepy lake in early morning. I think I have won, a moment of tranquility. And like a gentle breeze that rustles the dry leaves of giant, ancient trees shielding me like a canopy, that mirror pond surface of steel awakens from the vibration of youthful, hungry monsters rising up from their slumber and stomping toward me from the other side of the mountain range I thought would protect me and keep me hidden forever. My tempered glass countenance ripples into a harsh valley of peaks and ridges, waves that crash into one another causing even bigger waves and a current that is strong enough to swallow ships on a peaceful voyage to nowhere. And the larva of sleeping anxiety gyrates, keeping time with the brewing storm. From those spindles of cocooned silk emerges an evil so wicked that no repellent in existence can thwart it’s blood-sucking mission to target me as its host. So my heartbeat quickens into a thundering chant that beckons an onslaught. I try to breathe deeply and exhale with intention like the yogis, a serene gaze and heart full of compassion, always say to do. What I find is that my breath has shortened, transformed into a quickened panic and the pounding in my chest is deafening and seemingly blends with the gallop of a stampede, a squall line of juvenile hatchlings that corner me against the pier of my once enviable little life to sink their merciless fangs into my flesh as easily a fingernail peels the skin of a boiled tomato.
There is no escape.