I pick up the phone one day, when my brain is floating in a clear glass jar, separate from my body. My mind isn’t present in my body, and it’s just my limp arm moving forward automatically to pick up the phone when it rings.
“Hello?” My mouth moves on its own, forming the simple syllabelle-d word without much energy, and my caller catches out on my enthusiasm—or lack of it—immediately.
“Hey! What’s up?”
Nothing, I want to reply, that’s the problem. I hold my cell phone away from its previous spot on my cheek, checking caller ID. It’s someone who I suspect will natter off for a long time, perhaps even babbling away ‘til I fall asleep, so I move my tired body to an armchair in the living room, and fold myself into it.
From the corner of my eye, I see my brain, floating in the jar, inch slightly towards the direction of the armchair. My brain is a soggy, dirtied shade of black and seems like it is deflating by the second.
I am incapable of thinking. I am sick of solving problems, and I guess my brain was sick of it too—hence, it became a big problem.
Casting my eyes away, I try to re-focus on my caller’s voice.
“…I know there’s something wrong.”
My caller responds with a sigh that manages to feel like fingers dancing in a comfortable manner atop my shoulders. I let out a sigh of my own, and my caller instantly starts talking again at the sound of ‘life’ from my end of the call,
“You can tell me, you know!”
The fingers of my free hand fly to my temples, and they start to knead out the knots—mental and physical knots—out of my forehead.
“I bet you’re massaging your head now, or whatever weird thing it is that you do”, my caller says, smugness inching into his voice. I roll my eyes.
“Now you’re rolling your eyes.”
“Yeah”, I utter, my first real word of the phone-call, “I’m rolling my eyes at your question.”
I look away from the lint on my armchair for a second, and catch a glimpse of gray.
Gray. My bloody brain, sitting in a bloody jar, has lightened—it’s turned into a bloody shade of gray.
It bloody changed colour.
“T—the question.” I somehow manage to get my voice back from my stunned state.
“Oh, you mean What’s Wrong? Of course I know that you hate telling people what’s wrong…but you never talk about anything that should be talking about, so…”
“What do you mean?” I feel heat rush to my cheeks. “I’m not entitled to tell you my problems—we aren’t even close, goddamnnit. I don’t even know why you called.”
As an afterthought, because I’m still in painful shock from the fact that my brain turned gray—and also the fact that it’s floating in a fucking glass jar that magically appeared in my living room—I spit out, “You can hang up.”
My caller allows me to simmer in exactly one and a half seconds of silent fury, before cutting in the stew of my rage with a voice as smooth and cool as a curl of butter. “You can, you know. Open up. Right here and right now. It’s okay.”
And because I’ve been a selfish, self-centred brat all this time who just wanted to hear the words It’s okay all this time, I let the dam break.
It’s okay to let it out,
A wall, carefully constructed with crawling lattices and stones stacked up nicely, starts to crumble.
It’s okay to cry, I promise,
The first stone falls, and hits the ground on the other side of the wall. More follow.
It’s okay, really.
Soon, more stones fall, creating a large gap in the remaining wall of stone. The lattices have been torn apart by some mysterious force that makes my insides feel all warm.
It’s okay to be human, and act like one, too.
Sunlight filters through the gap, and tears slip down my face. They are wet and warm and streak down my cheeks smoothly, like pearls in oil.
“I—I would love that. To tell you more. Thank you.”
And my caller responds with, “You’re welcome.”
He speaks again, and it seems like what he says is an afterthought, “You’re always welcome. You know that.”
I end the call with a smile on my face, dimples finally finding their place on my face once again, crinkles lining my eyes like they used to. My hands are trembling, my toes vibrate—I feel like a new person, with every skin-pore and fibre of my being filled with joy.
But something’s still missing.
I close my eyes, and clasp my hands together in front of me. I’m sitting up straight in the armchair, because there’s no longer the need to fold my body into its warm fabric—I’m full of warmth.
THUNK. My skull rings with a new weight, an additional pressure that is felt all the way to my torso, wrapping around my abdomen, ribboning down my legs and setting each bone in my body into place.
“Welcome back, brain.” I give my head a little pat, hoping my brain will appreciate the congratulatory gesture I’m offering it. It’s been a long journey, a rough voyage for my dear brain, and you betcha, I’m gonna appreciate its presence.
Now that I’m capable of thinking again, who knows what I’ll think of—the possibilities are endless, and I’m able to do anything, once my mind is set—settled right back down in my body—and once I set my mind to it.
I know it.
alternate title: Voyage
Written in response to this prompt, and written to