I go out for six hours. The sun warms my neck like a lover's breath. Shelves of books greet me when I enter my church: The local library. I meet friends, we talk, we go to lunch, and shadows stretch long before we say farewell.
I go home. I run fever as my skin burns and freezes like a microwaved dinner. My entire body aches. I dread moving. I sleep for nine hours then nap for three more the next day. My brain fogs over. This is the price I pay for leaving my apartment. This is my body's fee.
My writing suffers for days afterwards. Everyone needs lived experience of some kind to be a better writer. Research renders me unable to record it. The well I fill with life poisons my body.
Three days of agony and mismatched thoughts. Seventy-two hours of not writing, editing, or submitting. If I go out twice, the rest of the week is useless. I'm useless.
Do I live or do I write? I can't always choose both.
I can never pinpoint when it started... not exactly. All I know is that I didn't used to be like this—my current state, the "where" I am now.
I fill my days with as much as possible, but a wall looms in front of me. If I stretch out my tongue, I can almost feel the chilled, rough exterior scraping against my taste buds. It's there and I'll hit it. It's there... and that's the finish line.
The entirety of my future accomplishments are stuffed within the three inches of space between my body and my stopping point. How much can I fit in there? How much can conceivably be left? Will I ever put a full-length poetry collection into the world? Are there enough spoons to start a writers' group?
The future is a thief shuffling out my front door with the present in an opaque trash bag. I try to focus on the poem I might write today instead of a theoretical collection. I manage a blog post now, and put the ones I'll be too weak or ill to finish out of my mind. I don't always succeed.