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Volcanoes and Hurricanes

Volcanoes and Hurricanes

by Caitlin Cording

Sometimes my skin itches, but not like on the surface where all my freckles and scars are visible. It itches in a place my nails can’t dig. It’s as though there’s something trapped between the layers—something that wriggles and squirms and yearns to gush through my pores. Sometimes I hear my brain buzzing, and when it does, it conjures memories that sting. I prefer silence for that reason. Stillness too. Whenever I take a bath, I hold my breath and stay as still as I can so the water can’t slosh around. Sometimes I envision myself in a lake and duck underneath. When my throat starts burning like there’s larva spurting from my stomach, I break the surface and gulp the steamy air.

I suppose if I had to label it, I’d call it a need for control. I don’t know why I need it. I guess I just like to be reminded the world can be paused sometimes—that the heart of the hurricane is a serene one, and I can stay there, in its eye, and observe mass destruction without being a part of it.

Is that it? I need to believe one’s soul can find peace even in the midst of chaos. Is peace what I’m truly seeking here?

I run my finger over the barrel’s grooves and its scaly leather handle and contemplate the plausibility of this theory. I give it a three out of ten and sigh. My breath vaporises. It shouldn’t be this cold in here. I touch the radiator, then snatch back my hand. It’s not cold in here.

More insight. I’ve got to jot that down.

I grab my diary from the top drawer, take a moment to study the planets and stars adorning its cover, then open to the relevant page and scan the list entitled, Epiphanies in Order of Appearance.

1. I can leave my body

2. I see things; ghosts?

3. I hear voices

4. They tell me to do things

With each day that passes since that day, I’ve learnt something new about myself. Or maybe it’s an old personality quirk I never realised I had until now.

I scrawl, ‘5. My surroundings do not affect my body temperature,’ and slam shut the notebook. It makes a satisfying clap. I smile. Okay, maybe I do like some noises.

My gaze shifts to the gun.

The gun is heavier than I expected. At best guess, I’d say it’s about the weight of a standard garden-fence brick. I’m glad. It’s nice to have something solid to hold in my most unpredictable moments. I like the sense of power deadly things give me. Holding them reminds me that I still have choices, that I’m still the one in charge of my own body and mind. It helps me to remember that this descent into madness isn’t perpetual—not if I use the deadly things to do something about it, to make it end.