The words she has to offer


Natalie Mix

We are so close to summer; I won’t give into burnout yet.

She walks a fragile line, on these desperate late nights, when the words are elusive and uncooperative. She’s mastered the balance between prose and feeling, yet at times, she’s still entirely at a loss, like a child that’s only just discovered words. 

Too often she’s found herself spitting emotion onto a page with no lyricism to make it appealing, but tonight, she’s unavoidably called to the opposite, to flowing lines of description with no meaning to give them poignance. 

She’s scoured her drafts, looking for something to work with, something to mold, and has ended up with nothing, just an overabundance of adjectives with nowhere to go. 

Adjectives that tell of the feeling right now, her feet scrunched into the fleece of a blanket beneath her comforter and sheets, and the warmth of her cat pressed sleepily against her chest. 

The shakiness she feels, beginning in her head, pinching her breath in, and finding its way out in the stilted movement of her fingers across the keys—it’s the lingering effects of math homework that pushed and pulled her until she gave, like a puppet collapsing under the cajoling strings of a puppeteer. 

The exhaustion that’s creeping in, consuming from the inside out, and will surely find her late for Geology again tomorrow, brimming with self-hatred as she drives to school in the dewy morning light. 

And she thinks of these last few weeks, of the peaceful feeling she’s come to know when she’s in the car alone, letting her mind wander to every nuance of existence that has come to her attention lately—a stark but harmonious contrast to the times when her car is brimming with people, their laughter, their songs filling the queue and playing at full volume with the windows down so they can barely hear each other.

She feels frustration at these words, lacking in the meaning that normally empowers them, and not nearly as enrapturing as she envisioned them to be. 

But she’s shocked, and grateful, that they’re here at all. She’s pent up, and the words are like water from a leaky tap, every droplet hanging on for far too long before it splatters rhythmically. She’s barely moved in an hour, ridden with worries as these last few weeks move with a contradictory pace, outrunning her one moment and crawling without any sense of urgency the next.

She’s made it this far, a fact that continually surprises her, and if this is what her words can afford so late at night—with frustration simmering dangerously beneath the surface and the frightening inklings of burnout prickling subliminally—she’ll take it.

She won’t take these words for granted.