From The Pit Of My Stomach (Essay)

Words and art by Charlie Mock.

Last month I saw a cute guy on the tube. We shared a moment, but only one because the tall man with the briefcase got in my way and the woman with red lipstick stood on my toes.

A week later I saw another one and then in the same day, three more walking down the street. Each time, our eyes crossed paths to exchange something only a stranger can bestow: unadulterated intrigue.

The next one came two days later. This time I smiled; it was the nice thing to do. He disappeared behind a food cart and I broke off into the pharmacy. He was in a rush and I needed lip balm. Our exchange sparked a forgotten feeling in my brain, but I dismissed it to choose between own-brand and special offers, and although my cheeks blushed a warm pink, I put it down to the cold. Food cart boy left my short-term memory and I left the pharmacy to go about the rest of my day as normal, unknowingly carrying an accumulation of false guilt with my facial care and tampons.

I went home because it was getting late and I was getting hungry. Opening the door to the small flat that I rent with my boyfriend, I was all of a sudden surrounded by the shared belongings that we’d collected over our short time living in one another’s back pockets.

The familiarity wrapped around me before his arms had a chance. What usually felt cozy drowned me as I began to feel something rising slowly from the pit of my stomach. Smiling through my dizziness I collapsed onto the bed and into his lap where light nausea and heart palpitations ensued. I pushed my face further into his jumper expecting to find comfort, but that something had reached my throat. It stayed there until a short while later when, unannounced, it forced its head between my lips desperate to be made a reality.

Word vomit. Cady Heron knew it well. Perhaps it was because the line between her thoughts and reality was particularly blurred. Perhaps that’s what happens when you provide the voice-over for your own life.

“I saw a cute guy on the street today and I smiled at him because I thought it was the nice thing to do and then there were others before and I thought about them and we looked at each other and I thought that they were attractive but it doesn’t mean that I don’t think you’re attractive I think you’re really attractive it was just a thought that was in my head and it needed to come out I’m sorry you’re attractive so attractive I love you.”

Passing thoughts turned to cold reality as I made sense of the garbled logic that now hung in the air, my sense of relief suspended somewhere from my nasal passage. Those words weren’t ones I chose to say, at least not in the sense that I chose to wear pink socks that morning. Rather, I heard myself say them. I heard them in the same way that I hear the radio and I heard them in the same way that I hear a voice over: from the outside.

It wasn’t the first time that I’d fallen foul to a case of verbal diarrhea. It happens nearly every day. One thought will lead to another and together they join forces to wreak havoc from the inside out, hell-bent on ruining any sense of inner peace I may have outwardly been pretending to uphold. “I watched Broad City without you” or  “I touched myself on the sofa” or “I told my mum about your piles.” When water reaches boiling point, its molecules begin to move so intensely that some are forced to break free. This is what happens with word vomit. I think it must be how Kanye feels.

Tentatively opening my eyes, I returned to an unexpected smile. Coherency resumed and anxiety quelled as my muscles let go of their life rafts and sunk back into the room. It was an acknowledgement, albeit a silent one, that the words I’ve unleashed and the force behind them were irrelevant as long as I was there. Drifting inconsequentially, we discussed the powers of attraction and what they mean, a happy stopgap hinged on chemicals I can’t name and thoughts I’ll never control. “It’s okay,” he said, “I saw a cute girl on the tube.” –Charlie Mock.

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