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Dysmorphia

by Lindsay Lutomski 11 months ago in coping

A girls journey in a world of her own convoluted perception.

I used to love science fiction until I realized I was living in a reality stranger than fiction. It was on a mediocre Wednesday morning that my world was turned upside down and sideways - literally. On a typical foggy autumn morning in San Francisco, I took the ill fated decision to get a start on my 10,000 steps that day and walk the 7 blocks to work from BART. I heard the nagging words of my Nana commenting on the freshman 15 I never lost after quitting college 2 years ago. She never let it go that my grandpa lent me 20k for my education after he died just to let myself go. I lived in a tiny studio apartment above a coffee shop off of Shattuck in Berkeley. It was always smelling of burnt coffee grounds and stale scones that regularly churned my stomach to the point of never wanting breakfast nonetheless coffee or tea. Less calories in my life anyway. So when I was on my walk, it was odd that a café would entice me enough to distract me from my route to work. The smell was-forgive me for being punny-otherworldly. Transcendent if a smell ever was. I walked into the café, bewildered with a sudden hunger. I found myself pulled to a small table next to an even smaller shelf of books. A shapely young woman sauntered over to me, eyes locked with a certain intensity that made me blush. She had what seemed to be a blue hue to her skin. Translucent almost. Intoxicating definitely.

‘Alo. Welcome to the Papaya Lounge. What’s your interest?’ Said the unearthly being.

I inexplicably lost the ability to speak and grunted something resembling a greeting. She stood for what felt like eternity reading my face like a book. I felt naked. Exposed. A moment of panic washed over her face when she then replied that she understood and with a quick glance to the bookshelf, spun herself around to float through the employee only push doors to the kitchen. I felt in a daze, like the feeling you get after a sneeze attack. Grasping for air after your released from an uncontrollable force. I tried focusing on the books on the shelf to help regulate my breathing. A pale green snakeskin looking book made me feel a choking indifference; a vast nothingness. A burgundy suede looking book had the illusion like it was sweating when I heard the faintness of a cicada shouting in my ear and condensation rolling down my lower back. I scanned my eyes to the next diary looking book that held me the moment I scanned my eyes over to it. I felt electricity in the air when I went to reach for it. As my fingers touched the spine, the hair on my arm shot up. There was an abrupt clank of porcelain that brought my attention to the table. She was there and gone within a fraction of a second-I was sure of it. Was I imagining this? I looked down and an oversized tea cup with what looked like a gold crescent moon as a handle sat before me. I held the cup in my shaking hands and saw the liquid within was reminiscent of a galaxy. Deep blue with specks of white, yellow. I inhaled the aroma of the drink assuming it was tea. I felt dizzy. I clanked the still full cup down suddenly, spilling slightly while trying to put my head between my knees to rush blood to my head-an exercise I was used to with sudden fainting spells happening all my life-I felt a stern hand grabbing mine and rushing, more like dragging, me out of the cafe.

It wasn’t until I realized I had stepped out of the cafe with this cloud of a person in such a rush they seemed almost ghostly, that I had the book. The book was in my hands with its black leather cover and string tied around to keep closed. I tried to free myself from this persons grasp and found myself suddenly falling backwards. I was trying to reach for something, anything and was losing my grip on the book that seemed to have almost as much a grip on me. I held tightly enough to keep hold of the string when it started to unravel around the book as I fell. The book opened before I hit the pavement. My eyes locked on a page showing an image that resembled a window or a mirror. A reflective surface that caused a chill of insecurity throughout my entire body. I started closing my eyes to prepare for the pavement when I realized I was no longer on the sidewalk of Van Ness. I was breaking into shards of glass as fast as a winded exhale along an abyss of space surrounding me; reminding me of that intoxicating tea. A loud shattering noise filled my ears which I soon realized was me screaming. The scream distorted everything around me. Including me.

I awoke to me no longer being there but here. Laying dismembered from my body underneath a sandy looking sky with an illuminating onyx sun. Similiar to a solar eclipse but different as you could see four jagged moons of this world separated to the left of the sun. As if a singular moon shattered like I did.

When I say I was dismembered I mean my head was separated from my body. Am I alive? I thought. How am I thinking? I thought. I became aware that my head was surrounded by glass. Similiar to a astronauts helmet. My body wasn’t encased in anything but lying lifeless on the teal dirt floor. I thought to myself GET UP. My head flew upwards within the glass globe so quickly that I knocked my head on the glass after it hit a roof that was unnoticeably near me. I saw that I caused a basketball shaped hole through the roof when I heard someone yelling faintly near me. It was the waitress. She was floating as she came out of the small hut like structure. She was more of an aquamarine mist than a tangible figure.

‘Alo, Alo!? Can you please be mindful of the shelter?!’

I apologized promptly, slightly unaware that she no longer had a hold on my tongue as she did earlier. Also less aware of the gravity of our current state. She seemed to cause a calm amongst chaos.

‘I hope your travel has been of ease. I know this is your first experience vía Dystopia and I wish that you gain comfort or lose pressure of what you feel you need to.’ She said unabashedly as she directed me towards my body.

‘You can now relax your mind as your body does the hard work you cannot bring yourself to do. This is a world of bodily freedom. Put into it what you find worthy to get out of it what you need.’ She sighed.

I must have had a question mark tattooed on my face as she continued.

‘Other beings are here to be of support. They have the same goals. Find comfort in their worthiness.’ Ok, I thought, she is now talking in riddles and being less helpful than if she said next to nothing as she did in the cafe.

‘Who are you? Where am I?’ I asked. She advised ‘I am here if you need me. You may call me Anamonan or Anan for short. We are in the world you most desired.’ ‘So there are other worlds?’ I blurted out trying to grasp all of this nonsense she was saying; what I was seeing. ‘Yes, of course. Only offered to you when called upon’ she said in a detached tone. ‘You’ve entered Dysmorphia’.

I knew this word from my world, although memories were getting cloudy. It was a word one doctor or another told me when I was younger. I felt a copper taste in my mouth. Taste of discomfort. I couldn’t grasp exactly what the word was but knew I hated it at my core-denying any relation to it.

‘Belong.’ Was all she said as she dissipated.

My head felt a sudden ringing. I saw my body rise up and sprint across the field. I felt the urge to follow but instead was pushed by a force in the opposite direction. I am going insane, I thought. I bumped into another being, within a glass globe similiar to mine but the head inside was a male, with red tinged eyes and crooked teeth. He smiled widely, without a hint of embarrassment as I never would have with those chompers.

‘Ello. New ‘ere, are ya?’ His British sounding voice startled me. I assumed everyone here (if anyone) would have a similiar alien accent as Anan. He directed me to a large overhang where multiple globes hung underneath, shaded from the black scorching sun. There were so many packed under the awning that overlooking them, I thought were bloated bubbles in the air. ‘Ave a drink’ as the Brit activated some kind of tube within my globe, misting me lightly within. ‘Thanks. Can you help tell me what the hell is going on?’ This helpful chap wasn’t going to distract me from getting to the point where I can get out of this insane new world. ‘Your ‘ome a course. You can relax while your body does the hard work you crave.’ It was in this moment a blur passed us quickly by, spinning some of the outer globes. On their fourth quick lap thereafter, I could see what the blur was. It was about 40 headless bodies sprinting. It caused the thought of the urge to vomit, but none came from it. There were these bodies, running under an extreme temperature outside with no water or restroom breaks. I almost felt a faint muscle memory of exertion, but there was a calmness upon my mind by seeing my body exercise without the direct feeling of strain. I began feeling the memory of joy and relief instead.

How could I so easily accept this odd world? How could I submit to its bizarre ways? It was as if a weight was literally lifted off of me. As quickly as the relief washed over me, I was spun across the field to my body; as were many other globes to theirs. The sky seemed to burst in color and sound. The shattered moon sparkled. The onyx sun crackled like a popsicle I ‘accidentally’ dropped on the sidewalk in front on my home as a kid on a summers day, to prevent from eating it after my parents bought it for me to enjoy a summers day like my sister who didn’t think twice about engorging on sweets. I could feel the electricity in the air. Then I noticed other bodies dropping like flies. Globes shattering to the ground. One after another after connecting with their body. It was as if it was a teetering row of dominoes and I was the final piece to coordinate the last piece of formation.

As I started to fall backwards, I saw upwards that the shattered moon had my reflection in it. I saw my dad ignoring my Nana’s snide comments about my stomach going out the door before my breasts in the reflection. I saw me skipping meals for days to fit into my new work clothes in the reflection. I saw the bookshelf in the reflection. I saw my dismay when my sister cried incessently over gaining one pound despite weighing less than 50 pounds then me in the reflection. I saw my dad at my hospital bedside. The tea. The studio I rented with two weight scales and no groceries in the fridge. My gaunt face. The table. The shattered sound of my screaming surrounding me. The shrill sound resonating...reverberating.

The sound distorts into a shrill long beep. It is the beeping of a machine. A very important machine. A smell of citrus is in the air.

‘I’m sorry, sir. She is gone’ Dr. Armand says as he puts his hand on my fathers shoulder. My father chokes back sobs as he throws his arms around my skeletal torso.

coping

Lindsay Lutomski

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