“Anxiety” is an ugly word. I think I’d prefer it without the final y. Anxiet sounds like the name of a shield-bearing, green-robed muse from antiquity, someone forceful, proud, and prone to fits of theatricality, but also fair-minded, charismatic, and thus much-loved by many. Rising while it’s still dark, she patrols the cobblestone streets with a pair of swords crossed across her back. In the battle of 3300 B.C., Anxiet leads a legion of one-hundred into a mountain pass, where she dies a hero’s death. Her enemies recover her body and garland it in white lilies before burial.

Drop the x, and the name takes on a sugary, modern twist. Aniet is a cool girl, and she and I do shots, which is something I have to imagine because I’ve never done it myself. Aniet disappears into a crowd that beats like a heart and returns with two silver elixirs, one in each of her gaudily beringed hands. She tips the whole drink down her throat; after a pause, I follow suit. What I appreciate about a light buzz is the permission it grants to be vulnerable which, with Aniet, naturally kind, a master of giving and taking, feels luxurious, intuitive, and right.

With the disappearance of the n, Aniet becomes Aiet, something airy, primordial, elemental. A molecule that was there at the start of the first day of the first year. On the shores of the ocean, no one but she sat to watch the hazy sun rise through misted, strawberry-colored skies. No one bathed with her in the pale waters. No one felt the stinging echo of the future calling back through time nor understood its warning. No one recognized the fatal grace of a world about to begin.

Return all the letters to their appropriate locations and send the word like a dagger whistling through the air. It flies inches past my sleeping face, waking me instantly from restless sleep, before vanishing into the sound of my ragged breathing. I get up, threads of sweat twisted over my back, and pace the cobblestone courtyard, beneath an unforgiving moon. The night is as still as a panther and as long as love. The only person I can talk to won’t be awake for hours. I finger the petals of the cut flowers in a vase on our dining table. No one sees me sit on the couch, staring dumbly at my hands.

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