There was that time when fever robbed me.Of sleep. Of time. I woke up and thought that my shadow came alive. She wasn’t quite me. She whispered and it made me ache—a feeling like ice breaking open my bones, like the time it got so cold that the wine bottle broke cracking open from within. I think I know what she said but it was in another language, some tongue I’ll never learn to speak properly, my pronunciation always just a little off, remember how I could always roll my r’s so perfectly but everything else I did wrong?
I dreamed of water evaporating. Whole oceans becoming plains of sand, the bones of fish slowly crumbling into dust. All I wanted was a sip, even if it was salty, even if it would burn my throat and scratch my tongue and leave my body full of want. A sip. The sand tasted like crushed glass. It was dry. like those Italian cookies, ossi dei morti, which were never my favorite. They crunched, so brittle, and made me think of graveyards.
I tried cloths dipped in ice water. Draped them across my skin like bandages. My sweat like blood seeping through. I imagined that if I could just get cool I’d be saved.
When the fever chilled me, I knew I was wrong. It sent shudders through me, my breath in gasps. It felt like I was being electrified with jolts of ice.My blood forming tiny snowflake crystals in my veins. I  thought I knew that winter when the ice got heavy enough it made the boughs break and down everything fell that the sound of trees snapping broke my heart. It was like history spinning backwards, life reverting to dirt, a graveyard sprouting in the midst of  a city. My heart broke and the beat played backwards for days on end. You’d never be able to tell unless you listened. It was counting down not up. I didn’t know that the break could last longer.
I woke up and saw skeletons playing dice at the foot of my bed, one asked me for my luck. All of it? I asked. Only the luck of your heart, they said and that seemed an easy enough thing to gamble.Rolled dice. The numbers never quite added up right.I’ve never been so lucky.
When the fever finally broke I felt like a child again playing at loss by the river. I found beautiful stones and those were the ones I’d throw back into the water. I’d watch them hit the surface and the ripple reminded me that I was alive. Still.
There was that time the fever robbed me. Of sleep. Of time. Of something I can’t quite name.


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