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“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
― J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

When you have a mind like mine,

some places become obstacle courses you cannot navigate around, only through.

Take the supermarket.

On a good day, it is where you can stroll leisurely between aisles and if you’re lucky,

someone will approach you with a hopeful smile and a tray of samples.

You say thank you and take a meatball on a toothpick and you move on

without the slightest intention to purchase the product.

You go home,

taking your grocery bags with you,

taking extra care with the eggs.

You won’t even remember the meatball on a toothpick the day after.

On a bad day, the supermarket is a maze,

hedged by cereal boxes, sanitary products, bargain sales.

You look around, because even if logically the odds

of someone aiming a gun to your head

or the rows of canned soup falling down on you from both sides

are negligible,

you cannot be sure until you look, again and again and again.

You pretend your hands are not cold and clammy,

your breathing is totally fine,

you

are

fine.

You start to think about that diving class you took for one semester

and you let out a strangled laugh, because it’s funny how it was easier to breathe underwater

even though snorkels make for poor gills and without one you would drown

but you wish you were really drowning because at least it would be more real

than this kind of drowning that no one can see but you.

You go home running,

taking your grocery bags with you, the plastic straps digging into your palm,

and when you look at the eggs they are all broken and you try your hardest not to think of them as a metaphor about yourself.

You dread the day you have to go grocery shopping again.

When you have a mind like mine,

you don’t need other enemies but your own brain

playing games with you,

whispering bitter nothings ceaselessly and sometimes

you don’t have the option to tune out, distract yourself, refuse to listen.

Sometimes the whispers are the only sound you hear

other than your own sobs.

The daily commute becomes an exercise in survival,

as standing on the edge of a platform in a train station—the words “MIND THE GAP” painted in yellow next to your toes—you realize that you only have to take a step forward at the right time and it will be the only step that matters.

Even your apartment balcony no longer provides only a nice view,

but a salvation so close to you,

if salvation means falling and close means twenty-five floors down.

You start to fear heights, but not because you might fall.

When you have a mind like mine,

your mind is a mine.

All it takes to set it off is a wrong step

a crowded place

a careless thought

and when, not if, it happens

all you can do is just to pick up the pieces,

clutch them close to you,

and keep walking.

You just

keep walking.

Performed at the Unmasked Open Poetry Mic on July 16, 2016.

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