It was early one morning while the sun was still pale and shifty-eyed. I had had one too many dreams. They came at night, uncontrollable, nebulous shameful sensations. You are being found out. They know you are a monster. They know that you have no feelings and no soul. They know you are just pretending. They came during the long afternoons, absent-minded daydreams the pale gray of sighs, in which I was some other girl: everyday she was different, a different story, a different struggle, different wondrous talents, different striking beauty, different people effortlessly drawn into loving her. Who could love what you really are? You don’t even know what you are. You are not even sure what you feel.

The roads you set out on without thinking are the roads you can never retrace. They tangle like wet and fraying strings and they are intractable. You set out trying to become something and in the process become something else, a darkness huddling near the floor, a failed experiment heaving its soft, pathetic sobs to no one. Pathological. Pathological liar. Borderline personality. Manipulative, shape-shifting, desperate, and hollow.

As the sun slowly rose I worked quickly. I let my mind refuse to believe the slippery handicraft of my fingers. If you don’t look, it’s not happening. You simply split yourself down the middle, imprison that dark half beneath a thick heavy grate, and as it howls and spits upwards you turn away and hum. Draw a line in the sand, walk across it, and refuse to believe it ever existed.

What was I doing? Cutting my heart out of my chest. Prying the ribs apart and lifting it— bare, bloody, jerking with fear-- away from the vessel I had deemed too unworthy, too messy and confusing to carry its weight. It was arduous work, but distracting: the burn in the muscle takes you away from your seasick head. And it felt better once it was gone. Things were quieter, emptier, and still. I used the vacant compartment to cave further inward on myself, bones and rocks tumbling down like the ruins of past civilizations. Stained with the same thorny unfathomability, scent of old blood and sweat, of buried defeat.

I wrapped it in newspaper. It still beat, low and slow like a bluesy lament, and if I had been more intrepid, had pressed my ear to that sad flank, I’m sure I would have heard accusations, and apologies, and warnings. But I put it away instead. I put it in an old box, along with a glass jar full of vomit and a cherished memory, shaded with delicate light, of the child I had once been. And then I took the box and heaved it into the ocean and let it bob and drift away. It was gone before anyone else woke up.