Hushing the beast

She doesn’t even need to open her eyes to realize.

She can feel it. It’s there again.

That creeping panic, that irrational fear, that anxiety that plunges its claws in her flesh. A savage and furious beast, a ravenous, ruthless and noisy beast, who brushes her consciousness edges, waiting for her to awake completely before launching its full force attack. She can feel it climb from her stomach to her chest, from her chest to her throat, from her throat to her eyes, that don’t want to open.

Why? Why again now?

She feels every part of her body heavy like lead. Every little action seems to require strenuous effort, seems an impossible task, an inhuman exertion.

Where all of this comes from? Yesterday she was fine. Well, almost. For sure, she didn’t expect this crisis, just now she was beginning feeling better again. Out of the blue she is at the starting point, crying without any apparent reason, fighting to put trough the simple task of getting out of bed.

An invisible claw is gripped around her chest and make breath difficult. An all-consuming emptiness digs a hole in her stomach. It’s the beast that launches its attack.

Every motion seems heavy, tiring, unbearable. Life itself appear impossible to deal with.

One moment her fear clouded mind tries to shake the numbness off in search of the source of that damned tears. The moment after all of her being clams up, refusing to think.

With an incredible effort, a hand ventures out of the bed-clothes to look for a tissue. Without any help from her eyes, still closed, her fingers brush the sheets till the edge of the bed, find the bedside table wood and run along beyond the lamp. There must be some tissues here.

Her fingertips brush against some paper, but it’s not the tissue-kind. A smooth surface. A spine. Pages.

Without the need of a direct order, her fingers close around the book and bring it in the bed, on the pillow, near her face.

Even before she feels the pages on her cheek, she can smell the book. Printed pages’ fragrance is unmistakable and, at the same time, always different. This one smells a little like a new car and a little like chips.

Thinking about food make her stomach, already torn to pieces by the beast, lurch. She focuses on the new car smell instead, that it’s much more relaxing, pure, clean, pristine and full of possibilities.

The grip on her chest, unbearable until a moment ago, seems a little less clutched now. Her eyes, still misty with tears, get open and some drops slip down, run along her cheeks and leave a wet trace on the page, where a stain appears.

Her eyes, by now completely open, see: words.

At first they only appear as printed symbols, placed side by side without a sense. Then little by little, the letters arrange in words, words arranges in sentences and the sentences start building an alternative reality. The beast seems a little less famished, a little less aggressive. The tears dries off.

Other words, other sentences gain a meaning and picture landscapes, outline characters, tell stories. Without even realize it, she finds herself sitting on the bed, the bed-clothes piled at her feet, her eyes dry and the book in her hands.

With every new sentence, the emptiness in her stomach fills up, the grip on her chest loosens, life becomes bearable and the prospect of getting up and begin a new day is not so intolerable anymore. The word she needed to hear were right there on her bedside table, closed between the pages of a book, waiting for her to realize she needed a weapon to hush the beast.

2 Replies to “Hushing the beast”

  1. thepaperbutterfly

    I’ll give you some feedback here. First off, I am a writer as well, but just playing around with fanfiction at the moment. So I wouldn’t call myself a writing authority or anything. And I am honest, but I try to be nice and not give a review that I wouldn’t want myself. That being said, if you disagree with my review, that is completely fine. It is your job as an author to process constructive criticism and determine if it actually applies to your story.

    This started out pretty good. I like the personification of her fear as a beast. I think this piece is very creative. That being said, you have to commit to it. When I think of a beast I think of a bear, lion, tiger, etc. I actually had the image of a tiger when I first started reading this. A tiger is huge, so it could not crawl on top of a human. A housecat could crawl on a human, but not a beast, so it was kind of confusing.

    Then you have the beast gripping around her chest with one claw. Unless it’s a dinosaur, his claws aren’t that big. So the animal is small enough to craw on top of her, but has claws so big it can wrap it around her whole chest?

    The emptiness digging a pit in her stomach. I am not that fond of this. I think it would be better if the beast tried to dig out her heart, but then she couldn’t get it back. That’s kind of the weird thing. If the beast dug out a hole in her stomach, even metaphorically, the fact that it fills up again just seems a bit odd. And when I think about a stomach or intestines filling up I think of digested food filling it up. I understand that this beast is metaphorical, and he actually isn’t digging a hole into her stomach, but it just made me go O.o And how can her stomach lurch if it has been metaphorically dug out? Might be better if you did something like that with her heart because the heart is often symbolic of our feelings and soul.

    I would have also liked to have seen her panic a bit more. I have had panic attacks, and it felt like I wanted to jump out of my skin and run around the house 100+ times. It felt like she was sad and upset, but you start the story by talking about her anxiety, not her sorrow or depression. I think if you add a bit more of her emotions it would add to this piece.

    This sentence is a bit awkward, “A savage and furious beast, a ravenous, ruthless and noisy beast, who brushes her consciousness edges, waiting for her to awake completely before launching its full force attack.” I would reword it like, “A savage and ravenous beast that lingers beyond the edge of awareness, waiting for her to awake before he pounced.” You have too many descriptions in there of the beast and you don’t need it. Although this sentence is still odd because she’s awake already, and this sentence makes it sound like she is asleep? Or maybe I’m not understanding it correctly.

    There are a few other awkward lines in here which I could point out if you would like me too. Anyway, I hope this doesn’t upset you. That was not my intent :$

    • Irene Aprile

      First of all, thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my piece so thoroughly. Feedback, especially negative one, is always useful because it makes me think about my writing a lot.

      As you said, the beast is metaphorical and I hadn’t a specific animal in mind while writing, however I understand what you mean about coherence in its acting. When you talk about the beast crawling, do you refer to this sentence?

      “She can feel it climb from her stomach to her chest, from her chest to her throat, from her throat to her eyes, that don’t want to open”

      Because in this case I was talking about the panic (a beast climbing to her eyes would have been too much!). Probably I wasn’t clear enough. For what concerns claws. I used the singular form because I meant a paw with its claws. Again, probably I wasn’t clear enough.

      At the beginning of the story, she is not fully asleep but she isn’t completely awake either. I meant to describe that state of half-sleeping sometimes we experience just before completely waking up (at least, it happens to me sometimes).

      I don’t really understand the “stomach issue”. Even if it’s not autobiographical, I described feelings I experienced myself and I clearly recollect feeling my stomach both as if it was empty and clutched by something. Again the image is metaphorical so it’s clear that her stomach is still in place and she can feel a sequence of different feelings.

      Some misunderstandings may be caused by the fact that I’m Italian and I don’t always know the exact translation of colloquial expressions in English… sometimes there isn’t one that fits in perfectly and I have to use a roundabout expression.

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