All The Time, since forever
My mouth is dry when I wake up. Overnight, the saliva has dripped and hardened and changed, so that what was once a comfortable liquid in my mouth has become a pool on the pillow. When I wake up, my tongue touches my cheek and instantly I am shocked by the pain.
I get up because I have to be somewhere, always. It is either work or school depending on when it is, and I am late. I stare in the mirror, atop the sink in any bathroom that has ever been occupied by me. I stare, stare and then I slowly dip my head to the faucet, and begin to wash my mouth.
Cold, warm or hot—the temperature does not matter. The water is foreign, and like everything else, my body rejects it. I reel, tripping over balled-up clothes on the bathroom floor, falling backwards, slamming the back of my knees on the toilet. I scream without opening my mouth and so the noise that comes out is broken, hidden, different.
I let my body absorb the pain and I try again. I stick my toothbrush into my mouth and the rush that comes is neither a high or a low. It is just feelings and nerve endings and I punch the sink or the wall to replace the mouth pain with something else, anything else. I kick at the garbage can. Sometimes I fall to my knees and sometimes I throw up. When my head is in the toilet, I am shocked at the audacity, at how a tiny hole on my tiny tongue in my gaping mouth in a short body in this small life can posess so much feeling. I call it the Thunder and it visits often, and it changes me. I am forever isolated.
It is only in this vaccuum of pain where I am safe.