Second Year Malaise by Josette Torres

I am sick of my voice. My teaching self talks too much. I use the grip tape wrapped around the red rails at the top of my spiral staircase to mark the boundary where I can speak my grievances. I use the street outside to mark the boundary of where I can’t speak anything. On the evening commute, the phrase I miss you so much sticks in my throat to the point where I nearly fall into a puddle of drunk undergraduates climbing their own staircases. I am a wall I must climb, Michael McDermott sang on WXRT several lifetimes ago. I sing about how I admire silence under my breath as I walk. I was laughing when it hit me in the face.

I laugh when I type I swear to God I will cut off her fucking hands because it won’t ever happen. I think about real world applications of network architecture. I think about routing tables. I wish my bachelor’s degree was in computer technology instead of creative writing. I solve every problem by locking myself into an empty room and whipping out a laptop. I find myself impatient with small talk. I time arrivals and departures. I have an afternoon meeting flashback so disturbing I almost walk out of workshop. I tell a former co-worker about this via instant messenger and he sends me a webcomic in response. Webcomics are still not funny.

A friend goes to the hospital and I tell her I think about you every day and Don’t go to graduate school even though we’ve never met. I am not a liar to her. I think of her each time I walk the American Literature stacks. I think of her every time I pass my neglected copy of Sylvia Plath’s journals. I think of her when I finish my daily self-care ritual of drinking until I spit flames and sobbing. I would give my voice to her if it would help. I am sick of my voice.

Josette Torres received her MFA in Creative Writing from Virginia Tech. She also holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from Purdue University. Her work has previously appeared in HYGIENE, Ayris, The New Verse News, 16 Blocks, and elsewhere. She is currently a doctoral student in cultural thought in Virginia Tech’s ASPECT Program.