I’ve got corners in my throat. I don’t know how else to describe it.
Like an empty room, the empty room in an old house, the people long gone, dust-balls swirling around in the drafts coming in around windows shrunken in their frames. Dust-balls whirling like rabbits in little cyclones, until they get caught in the corners of the empty rooms. Dust-balls piling up like words, stacking up, balling up in the corners, getting caught, no way to escape.
I meditate, because I want to be a better person. I sit, every day, and I chant. I chant “Om”, over and over, because it makes me feel better and I want to be a better person. Meditating makes me calmer, slows my heartbeat, lowers my blood pressure.
But now I’ve got corners in my throat. The words, the “Oms”, get caught in the corners. It hurts, the words, getting caught in the corners when they try to come out. One moment the “Om” is flowing out, smooth as butter, silky as cream, and the next moment it gets caught in one of the corners in the empty room of my throat, and I choke.
It feels like a rock when it happens, not soft like a dust-ball, but sharp-edged and ragged, gritty like swallowing sand. And when the “Om” gets stuck and can’t get out, I can’t be a better person.
I’ve gone to the doctor. I’ve gone to seven doctors. They all say the same thing: they can’t find anything in my throat. Of course they can’t—it’s an empty room. They—the doctors—all look in my throat with cameras, then they look at me, then back in their cameras. I know what they’re thinking: that I’m crazy. They think I need medication because I’m a hypochondriac. The kind of medication that makes you drag around your days, your arms and legs like numb hunks of meat, standing there in the empty rooms staring at the dust motes crawling around in the dingy sunlight.
I’ve asked other people about the corners. No one has any idea what I’m talking about, or if they do, they pretend they don’t. Now, every night when I sit down to meditate, to make myself a better person and lower my blood pressure, I get afraid my “Oms” will get caught in the corners before they can reach my mouth. Because if the “Oms” can’t get out, they get trapped in the corners and pile up like the dust-balls, except they are rocks, sharp little rocks, and they cut and hurt, and then my throat will get infected and maybe gangrenous, and maybe turn into cancer.
It’s all I think about, now: cancer. That disease eating me alive from the inside, eating away my livelihood. If I can’t talk, if I can’t give my sermons every week, people will turn away from me. I have to save my flock, and I have to be able to talk to save my flock.
So I hope you’ll understand why I told you all this. Why I have to do this. The doctors won’t help me, so I have to take charge of my own healing. To do that, I have to find out where the corners are. What they are. So I can go back to the know-nothing doctors and show them the results of my research and they can save me from cancer.
I bought a brand-new chef’s knife from the restaurant supply over on Elm and Forty-Second, and they promised me it was the best one they had. The sharpest one. I don’t want this to hurt, but it will hurt a little, I can’t lie to you. But this time I’ll make the cut fast, so you’ll barely feel it. And then in a few moments it won’t matter anyway.
Don’t worry—after doing this nine times already I’ve gotten better and faster at it, so you will reach your heavenly reward sooner than the others did. I feel bad about that, that it took so long with the others, but they served a higher purpose. You’ll serve a higher purpose, too.
You should feel good about that.
2 thoughts on ““Cutting Corners” — Flash Fiction #2”
Damn. That is some powerful writing. And you know what? I’m going to the mirror right now to see if I have corners in my throat.
Thank you very much, Liz.