Read “The Black Oracle” now at Inside the Bell Jar

(Trigger warning for discussion of depression)

The second issue of Inside the Bell Jar has been released, and it features my flash-fiction piece, “The Black Oracle“!

I honestly never thought I’d do much with this piece. I wrote it into my journal after a particularly difficult day, mostly for my own benefit to work through how I was feeling. I didn’t think much of it until Vic shared the call for submissions on the subject of mental health.

In the story I tried to personify that voice in my head that tells me I’m going to fail, that always seems to know the future. Depression is an ugly thing, but part of the reason that it works is due to how it presents itself as fair and reasonable, like it’s got out best interests at heart. I suppose the lesson to take to heart is to remind myself that the Black Oracle is not my friend, and it’s certainly not as infallible as it thinks it is.

I honestly couldn’t more thrilled to be featured in the new issue. It’s still a little strange seeing my own work on a website that I didn’t copy-paste myself, complete with a bio and a headshot! And I really love the photo they chose to go with it: lonely and oppressive, yet ambiguous enough to be the Oracle itself.

Anyway, if you liked the story (or appreciated it, at any rate), please feel free to leave a comment and share it around. And please check out the other stuff that Inside the Bell Jar is putting out: they’re doing good work.

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Fight or Flight

Yesterday I nearly broke.

The body can only hold so much fear before it snaps. I found myself wishing that yes, finally, I was having a full-on panic attack, that I would finally run screaming out of the room, or break down crying, or throw up, so that at least I would have an excuse to go home. I held on, as I always do—though whether through professionalism or masochism, I couldn’t say. I kept on breathing. Kept walking. Didn’t let them see me bleed.

In a way, I’m proud of the fact that I’ve gone this long, since a perverse part of me thinks that enduring pain makes me morally superior to those who dish it out.

When I got home I could barely stand. Barely think. That’s the scariest thing of all: the way I can feel parts of my brain—my greatest asset, the thing I’ve spent my entire life developing– shutting down, all non-essential functions closed to power the survival instinct. Memory, creativity, empathy, motivation: all cut off by the root need to run of fight.

Today I woke with a headache from nowhere: usually I might get a few a year, but these days it’s always there, like someone wrapped my brain in barbed wire. My energy had not returned. I made myself run—I hadn’t gone for a run for three weeks due to a pain in my ankle, but I had no choice: I could no longer stand the feel of cold adrenaline coagulating in my veins, and I had to burn it away. My cardio was shot to hell, and I only completed half my usual route, but I felt better. My ankle is still screaming it’s protest, but there it is: hurting my body because my mind has to heal.

I’m scared to go to sleep. Not because I’m afraid I won’t, but because tomorrow I have to do it all over again.