It's fear. It's the kind that attaches to the crown of your head, and spreads coldly and jerkily, like hair gel falling down a wall, along your spine into the pit of your stomach. It's like in the books: that cold sinking. Then its twin, the self-hatred. Following in a thinner, acidic streak, dripping. That realization that maybe this time, it's too late. Maybe you've blown it. Like Scarlett O'Hara and countless others careless until after the last moment. Like getting the acceptance and even sympathy from your parents about your schoolwork, and blowing it all by reading the Babysitters Club when you should be working on spelling. It's paralyzing. It creeps from your spine around your neck into your ears. It buzzes. It pushes the world still, into slow motion, and makes ridiculous the tiny thoughts left over. The nausea. Feeling completely at the mercy of... whatever you're at the mercy of. And knowing, wincing with the knowledge, that if you are forgiven then you might just do it all over again. The certain knowledge that you are utterly a poseur, empty, only made of shadows. Another tiny voice, far off, laughing at your melodrama. The slowness, the lead in your stomach. Another corner, abuzz with its own resentment: everything was fine until now. Why are we all of a sudden not forgiven. Why can you tell us that everything is okay and then it's not.

And you realize that you can hardly feel your fingers and your neck is stiff. And you no longer have a crown to your head: it seems to have disintegrated, there is no sensation left.

A ridiculous, dramatic comparison to much grander things. ohshityoublewit. Oh my god. I'm so dead. I'm never going to be whole. I'm never going to function in relationships. And it doesn't matter how much you warn them. They're never gonna get it till they feel it. And then they'll hate you for it.

The sudden realization that the net is not where you thought it was. And you're diving, you missed the catcher and you're rolling, you're hitting the floor. But you thought there was net.

A calmness of desparation. It's all over. It doesn't matter. Plans for living. Plans for where to go, instead. The ridiculousness that you're apologizing for someone else. And yet it doesn't really matter: nothing matters.

Worst of all is the tiny, flaming hope, the tenacious, butterfly hope that you can make it. It's the life that causes pain. It's the hope that causes fear. If things survive it will be so much work. To regain footing. To be heard. To feel secure. Security, when the net is gone? And yet, to be on the wire is life, they said. All the rest is waiting.