Loneliness is a four letter word
She smelt like a sack of dry faeces. Her skin – perishing, lathered in Olay – mercilessly showed the frown lines, vivider than ever. The dog skimmed off the froth at her mouth. Her phone rang twice. Mint leaves in the glass jar turned paler than life. The dog ate a few of those and broke the jar. Water drove past her fingers, just like her list of contacts. When cockroaches crawled into her hair, the dog ate a few of those too. He nuzzled her stone-cold clenched fist and tried taking out the empty pill box. Later he spewed a chalky concoction on her and licked it off. She no longer smelt like a dead rat. The dog fluttered his tail listlessly like a cheeky riposte when they barged in. They called important people to clear the rot. When she was put inside the ambulance the dog tucked his tail between legs. He looked at the important people for help, but they looked away, as always. They put away her linens that reeked of desolation, to charity. Her desk – a lemon’s lair – was dumped in the landfill. The dog curled up inside the cupboard and wondered if death, too, comes with an emergency exit.
Anxiety is a three-legged dog trapped inside a windowless room
Gnaw at your fingers until you are sore and inflamed. Watch the ugliness of your bloody cuticle overpower the whirl of your horrible thoughts. (Get a fancy manicure later; or maybe never.) Pick at the leathery skin of your lips until you feel like a rabid racoon. Stop when you reach the centre in the bottom because you can feel like a human now. (Consider getting a Cyber Bite for amplified relaxation.) Add 25 items in your Amazon cart until you see dancing orbs on the walls. The aching median nerve gives way and your shoulder crumbles for carrying all the weight of your inflated, windy brain. (Open Instagram and search ‘#happycatclub’ to unwind.) Change your bed sheet, clean the floor, blow the dust off your cupboard, rearrange the linens, clean the sink, bring out the dinner set that you never use and wash every bowl. (Until you see your ghost on the scrubber.) Watch the rock star-guru-for-the-whites-and-third-world-elites talk about how we are compulsively directing horror movies in our heads whilst we should be making comedies instead. Roll a joint and consider his monologue. Meditate on the seabed and eat a walnut brownie through your nose. You are Julia Roberts in your head now. (The shit works.) Rob a bank and build a panic room behind the closet. (But first, ask your therapist how to be your own Meg Altman.) Take one day at a time: in All Caps. Still and all, you will float in a keg full of pig piss by midday and there will be a dug well between your brows by the afternoon and you will step into a dung-hole after sundown and you will drag yourself to get through another day. (Don’t hate its serrated edge, sweetheart; the blood runs back to you.)
Ankita Banerjee is a writer and poet based in Pune, India. Her works have appeared or will appear in The Bangalore Review, Coldnoon – International journal of travel writing & travelling cultures, Eunoia Review, Matter Press, Women’s Web, X-R-A-Y, Kitaab and others. Her first short fiction series is published by Juggernaut Books in 2019.