I close my eyes and put my face in my hands: the tips of my ring fingers pressed into the corners of my eyes, forefingers on my temples, thumbs resting on my jaw. I can feel the tremble.
I force myself to breathe.
After a while I reopen my eyes and stare through the blurry pink triangle, slowly focusing on the cupboard door in front of me. I push myself to my feet, open it, reach in, and pick up the only object sitting on an otherwise empty shelf.
The round, gold-coloured tin says Sour Cherry Drops on its lid. A smaller circle proclaims that the contents are made with real fruit juice.
It’s a little larger than my palm, just the right size to allow my fingers and thumb to curl around the curved edge and hold it securely. I pull off the lid.
It does not contain icing-sugar-dusted boiled sweets.
The inside edges are the same brassy colour as the outside, but the base, or rather, the thing on the base, is black. Not dull painted-metal black but really black. The blackness of absence. Of nothing.
I reach in, wedge a fingernail underneath, and extract it. A circle of darkness that unfolds to something larger as I put the now empty—or perhaps fuller—tin back on the shelf.
I hold the void’s edges where it forms a sullen, uncomfortable boundary with the light and colour of the world around it. It’s heavy, yet light. A closure, but also an opening.
An end, and a beginning.
There’s something pacifying about nothingness. All my spinning, whirling thoughts drain into it. The deadline I worry I can’t meet. The neighbour who parks on our front path. The pain in my right arm. The world I fear might be broken. The person who refuses to call me by my chosen name. The long-sightedness that is not quite bad enough for reading glasses, but not quite good enough to focus without strain. The colleague to whom I wonder if I said the wrong thing. The friend to whom I definitely said the wrong thing. The love to whom I did not say enough.
I open my mouth and make a sound. A howl, a screak, a scream. A long thread of a thing, that gets drawn into the void and pulled away. Dissipating into a place where there is so much emptiness that, no matter what you send there, it rounds down to nothing.
It fades away.
I fold up the void, place it back in its tin, and close the cupboard door.
My brain, of course, will make the thoughts again. But now, for a while, there’s peace.
I missed August. So, yeah.