The capture of a leaf.

She had been requested by an Other to provide accompaniment to their own dawdle—not hers—and this fraught invitation came to her as an interruption, an intrusion, a foreignness which gave immediate pollution to what had thus far been an altogether vexing day. Already she had been contaminated by hours spent useless, herself arched and strained, fraying, head in hands, her fingers bled from the tips which could muster neither properness nor clarity in the cacophony which billowed from her riotously burning brain.

As she processed the request carefully, each letter slipping anxiously into the next until a gap’s breadth gave a word its breath, she became consumed by a certain dread: A distinct Fear growing and clawing, snarling, a writhing thing which caused her skin to itch, and she threw it all to the ground which surrounds her thin-boned chair, the wickered cheapness of it creaking as her arms flailed, herself now pushing the Fear from her with a stockinged toe as she leaned the remainder of her body away from it, repelled as if it were a fetid rotting thing, pushing this Fear out of sight, refusing it with a nausea, shuddering in revulsion—she pushed it beneath a tall, solid, imposing pendulum clock which informed her that she had but three hours to find remedy and ready herself; three hours from now as stated in this request for accompaniment with which she must find herself in composed compliance.

She bandaged her fingertips and returned to her plight, plucking at taught thoughts which refused her sobbing plea for a loosening, themselves elusive and misshapen, herself painted in the scalding tones of richest frustration as she attempted to cleave these stubborn conceptions from the ungiving rigidity of her mind. Once she had formalized nothingness into a worthwhile presentation—a uselessness projected, indeed!—she removed herself from herself and returned to her fret, now with mere minutes before her wearisome obligation was to be met with and defined, her own dread tangled into its denotation and therefore any conceptualization of it as an actuality had become distorted, mangled, obscured from her completely.

In a moment she departed and became inwardly recalcitrant whilst outwardly engaged and she felt herself become detached from herself and replaced by a false thing, a puppet controlled not by strings dangling from her own bandaged fingers but by these foulest conditions as set by an Other—even these notions which she knew herself to find noisome she would nod to in feigned agreement, herself shocked at her self from afar, her true self imprisoned and forced to witness her own sharded behavior from a distance, with eyes held open by toothpicks, a mouth sewn shut, eardrums attuned with precision by trumpets inserted, her body shackled in position, in audience, captive and unwilling, compelled to absorb herself as a fractured abstraction, a contortion, an absence presented, this entirely false thing propelled only by a desire for acceptance, an agreeableness, not to shout out with an honest protestation, not to bark down that inanity, this stupidity, to mock forcefully that small-thought idiocy.

Yet this dread had misled her, for what she truly desired was not to be found participating with it at all, to not be there at all: She wished to run wildly from there, to return quickly to sanctuary and assuredness. Though above it all, above all of it, she wished to have never felt the need to flee at all, to have instead remained with herself where she knew her self to be a fine thing, propped up with properness, herself satisfied with her view: A view that when viewed from within this room was forever close by, a nearness which gave her comfort in its allowance for her to conceive of it completely as it existed in the small space before her—she could embrace it and it knew her, these patterns on the wall. Though even when she choked and sputtered when within herself, dragging her sunken fingernails along the floorboards until they became shorn, her hair torn from follicle as a formula for a calming, she remained herself by herself, a thing known and understood, a limited being constrained for her well-being, quantified with defects replete, from this moment to the next, quiet, oh! ‘Dearest separated silence, wherever you hide and however disquieted, please allow yourself to be revealed to me within quickened time.’

(It is dictated that these encounters are a means for progress, that to endure them is to be found on a path towards some manner of adjustment or realignment, that such experiences allow one to be less traumatized as they become normalized, that at some unbeknownst far-off point this tremendous pain will become just bearable enough for one to smile half-truthfully when requests for accompaniment are made. To her this simply reads as a recipe for resentment and she closes the book entirely, surely she is quite damaged enough as it is: Surely she can find enough to do on her own without undoing herself completely.)

There are artifacts and they persist with dourness. Contaminants. A sourest malodorousness which wafts through subsequent hours. It has been three days since she played at accompaniment, since she complied with those deleterious requests made of her, since she became apart from her self and watched helplessly as she went about another performance without her self, herself an idiot and an embarrassment, herself altogether unwillingly another whilst an Other unwittingly encouraged her decline. She repairs herself gently, stitching together that which has been torn asunder, her own punctured sense of safety now punctuated by a fragility. She feels that she must remain upended so that she shall remember precisely what it is that causes her the requirement of a mending. This is the lesson she learns, the truth of it. Not a sense of sensible acclimation or a sprightly reward for a trauma endured, never that.

The silliness of its thought as purposeful prescription: Instead she gains a reinforcement in her determination to remain apart from it, to let it be on its own whilst she does the same, an allowance for her to be exactly that which she is: A thing which only she shall know, a being without being, herself at ease within her self by being without, without being at all she shall be allowed to be… And, for her, that is all she could ever hope to have.

She returns to a warmed, welcomed placement and she finds her fingers healed, themselves without any indication of having been forsaken, themselves with an apparent willingness to pepper and herself with an odd form of happiness which comes along tenderly: ‘It is strange,’ she remarks to the marks upon paper, ‘it had been my intention to describe that circumstance with a certain clarity, to bring conversation to this perturbation. However, it would inevitably be just as meaningless, just as opaque and alien, because these are not experiences shared—an ease in understanding does not await idly nearby. Though to evoke consternation and disorientation does service just as well, as one’s discomposed undoing is all that I had meant to describe.’