I make a mean stew. In my head, that is. I can take a nagging thought, dump it in a cauldron, season it with self-doubt and anger, and simmer it for days and nights. The ladle keeps turning to keep the bubbling under control. I disguise the heat and aromatic tension with plastered smiles and small talk. Most play along. A select few notice and prod but I’m very good at what I do.

My recipe is special; bottled words, marinated memories, julienned expectations. Even as my insides are burning with acrid tears held back too long, I wish there was an easier way. Like breathing in and breathing out and letting toxic carbon dioxide mingle into oblivion. But I can’t do it. This is part of who I am. This habit, this caging of emotions, this fear of a world that will never be ready for all I have to say.

I wasn’t always like this. There was a time when  my mind was like pretty gauze, sheer and perpetually blushing with honesty. But then the tearing began. Everywhere I went, everybody I knew, it was all lies or silence. Like a red poppy I stood out in a hay stack, bold but useless. Being superficial was a life skill without which one was rendered primitive. I had to choose. Survival of the fittest right?

So I evolved. I built pearls with my pain and let them rot. I bought glossy cultured necklaces and strung them like a noose. I can feel it getting tighter slowly. It won’t be long now.

What does it matter anyway? Authenticity or plastic? Who cares if my words make it out of my larynx or die in some lost meadow which houses foliage of every single unuttered thought? Nothing matters. We’re born, we fight through each day, lie on a pillow without knowing what will come stumbling once the sun rises.

(Image credit- The Poppy Fields by Claude Monet)