Suddenly, I am a high-powered career woman. A woman of disturbing industry. Heels clack on the floor. Fragrance—petrichor, patchouli—wafts into the room like a storm cloud.

I want to pound this out before my mind catches up to what I’m writing. I want to press the feelings onto the page like flowers. Seconds and minutes bubble up like a pox.

Can I make it, I think, can I make it. Can I run up this hill without leaving my body halfway up, strewn in pieces among the blades of grass. Lose myself. Can’t stop talking mad shit. Rolling around in the squelching mud and then getting up and sending my cream-and-iron ensemble to the dry cleaners.

To think that just two weeks ago my time was my own to kill. I don’t miss it, but I don’t know that I suit these new conditions. I need to relearn how to breathe underwater, how to say “synergy” without flinching. This was an ordinary room before they gave it a lavish name and stuck an elevated platform and microphone stand in one enameled corner. I sit in the audience, perfectly still, and feel the flame drain away through the hole in my head.

If I have but one regret, it’s that the demands of transformation have warped every stitch of skin, every latch of flesh. The only part of myself I still recognize is my anxiety. Chuck me back to a time where I could walk forever and never leave the radius of my desires.

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