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I Can't Stop

By , Ann Arbor, MI

touching. Touching. Touching.


Why do I keep


touching, touching, touching?


I have to keep touching.


I got mad. I didn't want Akhil to take that coke bottle without paying for it. We walked the whole 20 yards from Robotics to MakerWorks just to get snacks. It didn't matter what they were, we could always come back next week and get the same thing.


It didn’t matter.


So why, when he didn't have money and grabbed the last cold glass bottle of liquid sugar did my mood flip? Why did I passive-aggressively yell at him even when he told me he would pay them back? Why did I keep telling him he's awful and I deserved the last bottle because “1. I got here first, and 2. I actually have the money to pay for it,”?


Why did I feel the need to slam my 3 dollars in the box of change to pay for my treats and speed walk away?

Why did I run with no sympathy for the struggling figure slipping on the icy streets while I ran up to Happy-Gears Robot Retirement?


It's  dark, the fluorescent ceiling lights of the main floor shining through the corners, like a universe surrounded by darkness. Wooden fences divide me and the rest of robotics. Sitting down in front of a steel frame robot, wires and buttons encased by thick plastic, my hands search for something to touch. Anything to touch.


Touching, touching, touching.


It's so far away from everyone here, and I need to be alone. I need to feel alone. I can't feel how cold the floor is, or how cold he is when he comes up to hug me or  how cold I am when I shoved his worried arms away.


Touching. Touching Touching.


I can't feel my hand aggressively tapping this square of metal strung to the robot by rope.


I can't think of why I need to do this, tapping and touching.


I can't see how numb my body is.


Touching, touching. I can't stop.


I try to pull my fingers away, look up at the worried Akhil kneeling besides me, do anything. But invisible hands would snap my head back into place if I glance away, and force my hands to touch,  and stole any thoughts from me. They swept away any oncoming tears or emotions.


Touching, touching, touching.


They were stopping anything from having any effect on me. They let one thought through:


Why?


I don't know why, brain.


Why?


I don’t know!!


Why….


Anything else. Any other thought. I don't know. I can't think of anything.


Music.


They let me do one thing at least. They didn't know how much this meant to them. It let me take one hand away from the


Touching, Touching, Tou-
‘Golden days, Panic at the Disco.’      Play.


I mouth it. It's the only other thing I am able to do. I see akhil try to open his mouth, but he closes it and lets me do what I need.


I feel a tear. What? Weren’t the hands supposed to stop this?


Wow, now I miss them. I miss being unable to feel anything.


It rolls down my cheek slower than watching snow melt. I could feel every hair it went over, every acne bump and mole, the I give it when I blink the 8 more times before the buildup is heavy enough to fall through the silence.


After that one fell onto the unpainted new wood of Happy Gears, the rest of them came like a broken fire hydrant. One after the other. I couldn’t stop.


Touching…. Touching…. Touching….


I can't stop, I won’t be able to, but i’m slowing. That’s good. Come on, I can do this. Just pull your hand awa-
TouchingTouchingTouching.


My hand aches, my arm is tired of holding This 2 pound metal square.


Suddenly I moved my fingers. They click pause. Silence overpowers the fading Miles Davis. My hand moves to the earbuds and pulls them out. My eyes slow the waterflow. I finaly able to look up at him, eyes red and puffy. He says only two things as he helps me up:


“You’re safe, you're going to be okay.”






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