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(A History Of) Nosebleeds

1. It’s summer & it’s too hot out & my head is a stuck balloon so when I taste salt there’s no surprise, just resignation to the fact that my body doesn’t even want to be inside of itself. And I’m spindly & haunting the swing set all alone, & I know that
there’s a beach someplace where a drop of my blood would diffuse into blue without staining. And I’m seven years old, & I’m not too young to be sad, but I’m not sad. I
grin with lipstick lips because I’m a kid & nosebleeds aren’t a tragedy.

2. I’m not scared of the dark until I start watching TV shows about serial killers, after
which cannibals & sexual sadists begin lurking in the corners of every part of my apartment when the lights are off.

Nobody’s home. I’ve been eating chips & watching TV in the dark for the past four hours because if I stand up, a scythe while slide out from under the couch & slit
my Achilles tendons. I’m contemplating the possibility of bargaining for a painless death with cool ranch Doritos when a blood-worm wriggles out of my nose. A red snowflake falls onto my T-shirt, leaving a stain right above my ribcage. The tissues
are all the way in the kitchen—a good thirty feet away from my sanctuary in the living room.

I stand up.

3. This hospital’s air is hot & dry in a frigid October, & I’ve been breathing it for five
days straight. Five days of staring out the window & its metal grate, willing the curve of rainwater into the jagged lines of my hands, my face. Punching walls. Praying for bruises. My knuckles are swollen, a pale, pathetic purple & sometimes I fool myself
into thinking I’m brave enough to fight through this to freedom. That someday these bruises will be on somebody else’s skin.

And then I sleep. That’s what it does to you, this metal grate. I can’t remember my dreams but I wake up with cockroaches in my stomach & a scarlet pillow & I know
who I am. Instead of wrapping my face in tissues I rub my nose against my sheets, my blanket, the wall whose paint I haven’t yet chipped with my fists. And I’m not
too young to fight back, but this is the closest I’ll ever get. I just don’t know how to die anymore.

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