Challenge #105: I Want to Breathe

Let me tell you my one ambition I want to live normally.

Every morning I wake in a bed that smells of ghostly blood and gunpowder, no matter how fresh the sheets. I smile into the mirror, like a man being led to his execution. But when I say good morning, to my friends, to my teachers, to the students in the halls, my cheer returns. In a starched white shirt and my thin black school tie, I feel something approaching the idea of normal.

This is how real people live, I think. They eat chocolate from the vending machines and forget to brush their teeth. They complain about their homework and declare that if their love letters are ignored, they will die and they both mean it and know they are joking at the same time.

I do none of these things. Chocolate tastes like sugary ashes, tooth-hurtingly sweet and tasteless all at once. I only eat foods that are pale and white, like rice or bread. They taste of nothing but air, so I can stomach them. Anything else hangs like hot lead in my belly, and the more I think, the hotter it becomes until I spend hours laying on my side, unable to move but for the pain. Some days I vomit, thick with bile and black flecks of partially digested blood.

Duo says that I must go to the doctor. But he is easy to put off with a smile and a phrase that is a lie dressed as a promise. I am too afraid to go to the doctor. They will cut me open, and they will find emptiness, or black blood, or ashes and chips of bone. I have not been able to trust the good intentions of doctors since I met Heero, and dreamed his nightmares.

I never forget to brush my teeth. Sometimes I do so five times a day, just to carry the eye watering, strong mint with me. It makes my lips burn. I wash my hands often, and my sheets several times a week. They are little ceremonies that help, a little, to give me something else to think of.

I do not go to student parties. The press of bodies makes me claustrophobic, and all I can imagine is them bursting into flames, drifting to ashes in the soundless explosions of space. The air is replaced with burning metal and ozone.

The only party I went to, I fled. Trowa found me in the decorative fountain, rolling in the cold water, gasping for breath. He said nothing, but wrapped his arms around me until I could breathe again. My hands tingled, and the beat of his heart was a steady clock to my ears.

Wufei says, we have all done things that we are ashamed of. He comes, sometimes, to have tea with me. He says, turning the white porcelain mug in his hands, that he thinks my obsession with white is an attempt to bury fire in snow, blood spatters with a fresh coat of paint.

When he says such things, I laugh and pretend it is nothing but a joke, a certain internal neatness that has always been a part of me.

Then, when I sleep, I dream I am mad with hatred and fed on murder once more. I dream death and explosions and war. I wake, convinced that I float in space, and there is no air. Sometimes, Trowa is there to catch me as I fall from bed, to keep my head from striking the hard floor.

Sometimes, there is no one. And perhaps that is best.

Let me tell you my one ambition I want to live normally. I want to stop being afraid. I want to breathe.