The feeling started in her head. A light-headedness took over, as if it were a foreign body or virus…
It is the moments when we lose ourselves – when everything crashes and burns – that lend the greatest opportunities to find our way. It is when we decide whether we are capable. Whether what we have to offer the world is enough. We find out that with every end, there is a new beginning.
The air was refreshing. It was that time of year; somewhere between winter and spring. Eva walked home from the library. The streets on campus felt quieter tonight; or it could have just been her. Everything seemed much slower than usual to her lately. While time seemed unhurried and slow, the thoughts in her head raced. She often went adrift, but she found the thought of spring comforting. Everything that withered in winter was dealt with and renewed in spring.
She walked up the front stairs to her apartment. Her arms and legs ached dully. She turned the key in her door. But first, she paused taking another breath of the cool, crisp air before she proceeded inside. She felt strange, almost as if she were detached from her body. Eva told herself that it was all in her head. She placed her keys and bag on the entryway table, and sat down on the stairs, pulling off her boots. She rested there momentarily. She heard her roommate, Avery, shuffle in the other room. She got up and walked around the corner. He was in the living room lying on the sofa, seemingly immersed in the book in front of him.
“Hey,” she said, leaning against the room’s threshold. “What are you reading?,” Eva asked.
Avery finished his sentence and lifted his head, “Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie McDonald”.
“Good choice. I’ve heard great things,” Eva responded, as she walked over and created space for herself next to him on the sofa. “How’s it going?” Eva asked.
“Great. You really have to read this novel, Eva,” Avery said.
Eva raised an eyebrow, “How can you prioritize reading right now? What happened to that twenty five page essay you were telling me about?,” she laughed.
“Yes Mother,” he responded sarcastically. “Don’t worry. Its due on Thursday. I have three pages down. I’ll grind it out tomorrow. Its only Monday,” he said.
“Avery, it’s Tuesday…” They paused and looked at each other. They simultaneously broke out into animated laughter. She loved these moments. His smile was her favorite thing about him. She turned away quickly when she caught herself starring. She hoped he hadn’t noticed.
“More importantly, you should be concerned about yourself. You never leave the house unless your going to the library, and you never set aside time for yourself. I’m convinced that you don’t sleep, and that the words “down time” hold no significance for you,” he said smiling.
“Well, that’s how I get things done. Speaking of which, I have more work to do right now,” She said emphatically. She shifted her body to get up.
“You just came back from the library. Take a break with me for an hour. He said suggestively, “Lets go to…”
She cut him off, “I should really get back to work. But thanks.”
He looked disappointed, almost hurt. “You need to stop it. Take a nap; enjoy life; read a book you actually want to read; leave the house; do something that doesn’t involve school. What are you always running from by doing this?” He said sternly.
Eva stood up from the sofa, angered. She hated when he pointed out her insecurities; when he started digging for the part of herself that she buried and hoped to forget. She was safe in striving for perfection. His questioning was an intrusion on her comfort. She hated being vulnerable, she loved their friendship, but she never got too close. Without a word, she left him in the living room and ascended the stairs.
“You can’t always be perfect. You’re going to burn out.” He yelled after her.
She locked her bedroom door behind her. Her face began to flush, and her mind began to race again. Memories began to emerge. She couldn’t fail, she had to keep going. She pulled out her laptop, to continue writing her assignment. She wanted to forget what she was feeling. She felt fatigued, yet, unstoppable. She told herself to keep going. The strange feeling she felt earlier hadn’t disappeared; perhaps, aggravated by her conversation with Avery. She thought of spring.
She opened her word document. An email notification popped up on the screen. It was from the University of Chicago. She read the first lines of the email hesitantly. The words verified her admission; the graduate program in the School of Social Service Administration. Her mind began to race more rapidly. Unlike the common reaction of celebration, an intense terror welled up within her. Her thoughts were contradictory. She had worked so hard, but she wasn’t supposed to get in, she thought to herself. Her thoughts became hazy.
“Am I good enough..?”
“I’m going to fail…”
“I don’t belong there…”
“I’m not good enough…”
Her thoughts and memories began to consume her. She tried to think of springtime, but the thoughts flowed quicker; the self-depreciation that marked them, becoming fiercer. Then, another feeling surfaced.
The feeling started in her head. Her stomach felt like a pit. A light-headedness took over, as if it were a foreign body or virus. Her heart began to pound like a thousand wild horses running; as if someone had pierced her heart with a vial of adrenaline. It was nothing like anything she had experienced before. Each of her breaths began to shorten. She gasped for air hungrily, while a strange electricity of pins and needles surged into her hands…her feet…her face. She didn’t know what was happening. She began to tremble uncontrollably; a river of emotions weighed her down, summoning the tears that followed. Her gasps turned into shrieking, then hyperventilation. Each moment felt like an eternity. She heard Avery yelling something from the other side of the door. Whatever he was saying, it became a part of the haze. She couldn’t be vulnerable in front of him. She tried to stifle everything she felt. She couldn’t let him know. She heard the door burst open and Avery approach her, as the haze thickened. He had defied the closed door. In the midst of each sensation, it felt like her spirit had ruptured. Everything went black.
It was winter, on the cusp of spring. It was time.