Photo by Allison Barr

It’s the darkest morning of September, but it’s the morning with the greatest objective prospects. A plan to drop off a resume in the afternoon, maybe around two o’clock. A message from a beloved old friend to reply to. A journal to complete, reflections on the state of the self. Finally, maybe some other outing. After all, there are fresh new pants in the bottom of the closet, waiting to be worn.

Ask yourself: What is it you want? What is the greatest thing that has happened in your life thus far? Compare those two answers below. (HINT: If you can’t find answers to them, then make something up. Whatever you make up will have some truth in it, won’t it? Because it is coming from you. Think about what it means to have that kind of power.)

The girl waits until the rain subsides before she takes off the rose washed covers and stares at her toes. Her magenta nail polish is chipped in two places, and against a brown carpet, the colour looks darker. The wind outside provides a gentle rapping against her tiny window and the birds provide her with some half-hearted company. Everything outside seems polite, patient, but somehow nerve-wracking, a teacher waiting for a reply to an on-the-spot question. The edge of the mattress is bare, the bedsheet has been dragged to one side of the bed, squishing itself against the wall; a remnant of her violent unconscious battle. She brings her left foot off the carpet and places it against her right knee. Her toes look bigger today. They’ve always looked bigger than everyone else’s, but it was on such mornings that she noticed their bulbous quality: so like her father’s in length, so like her mother’s in width. There’s a carpet burn scar towards the knuckle of her big toe. It’s a rusted sort-of colour, like she is made of both metal and flesh. Her fingers know she is simply skin, and she tripped the other day when she was distracted, angry, livid. Now she can’t remember what she was angry about. There’s nothing but calm in her now, the kind of lucid calmness that comes with straightforward tiredness.

There are clothes sitting on the chair beside her bed. A blouse with white buttons and gingham pants with clean hems. These would be worn to the dropping off of the resume. That file on her computer is another thing waiting for her, but it’s less patient. It moves her to rise from the bed, calls to her the way her mother would if she was home this morning. She stands and stares at her computer. Then at a rose covered journal next to it, pages jilted and forgotten inside.

Remind yourself: If what you want is drastically different from the greatest thing you’ve experienced, then it means you’re changing. Your wants and needs will always be changing. Once you’ve experienced it, you’re willing to give it up, to maybe never experience it again in favour of something different. Maybe it was such a wonderful first experience that another run would only be secondarily perfect. On the other hand, if what you want is the same as your greatest experience, it is comfort you crave, of the familiar. Maybe you feel safe this way. This is alright. This is what some people need before they reach the point of change.

Write about your greatest experience:

She walks slowly to her closet, her hands on her head, holding up all of her hair right at the top. When she reaches the closet she lets her hands fall, and her hair drops down around her neck. The closet has two sliding doors. One tends to slide further than the other, because there are boxes in the closet that hold it back. These boxes hold old photographs and documents belonging to her and her family. She hasn’t looked at them in years, but her mother gives them a glance over every time she does the spring cleaning.

She slides open the door that isn’t blocked by the boxes with her fingernails and gives all her clothes a stroke with her right hand. All the sleeves of her sweaters get an up and down caress and her t-shirt collars get a thumb and forefinger fondling. The pants get a pat on their back pockets. Each piece of clothing, she pretends, is someone different that she loves. The pants are definitely children; the sweaters her immediate family, and the t-shirts her friends. She steps back a bit after she’s done this, and pulls off her pyjama shirt, then her pyjama bottoms. She stands in front of her clothes in her bra and underwear. They’re plain undergarments, both beige and well-fitting.

Tell yourself: It only really matters what I want today. If I want ten things, I might only get one, and it may not mean a thing tomorrow. Our wants are such light things, and so temperamental. They can be everything one day and nothing the next. Or they can stay with us for a long time, too long. But I have to be careful with that because I do not want my wants to harden into desperation. Longing is a beautiful feeling, if it is comprised of nostalgia, but longing for non-existent dreams will leave me perpetually unsatisfied.

Longing for non-existent dreams will leave me perpetually unsatisfied.

Most importantly, I will achieve the best I can.

I will achieve the best I can.

To keep this habit, write the sentences above repetitively for the next seven days:

Standing half naked in front of all the people she loves seems to be a courageous feat. She cups her hands around her breasts. This sense of accomplishment brings a small grin to her face. She slides the closet door shut and turns around, hands on her head again, but this time without her hair bunched up under them. The bed sighs as she sits on it, with her palms facing upward. She looks at the chair, at the computer, her journal, her phone. With one swift movement of the covers, she takes them all away from her sight.

Repetition is essential. Once you repeat what you’d like to believe, it becomes part of your subconscious. You think it without knowing. You live it. It becomes part of your dreams. This is not hypnosis; if you’d like to use this word, it’s a prayer. The simplest kind of prayer you can find anywhere. No punishments from the higher-ups, no strings attached. This prayer is for you only. Write your own prayer (no fancy words required):

Her mother comes home around two-thirty, tall and barefooted. She opens the door to her room and finds a small figure the shape of her daughter underneath the covers, a fabric fortress. Her eyes take in all the immovable objects in the room, but the most immovable is her own child. She sighs, not out of frustration, but out of necessity. It comes out of her mouth like the wind through the window, just as patient, just as polite, but not at all nerve-wracking. She moves closer to her daughter, listening for the sound of her breaths, then quietly leaves the room, shutting the door without a sound.

Hadiyyah Kuma is an emerging writer based in Toronto.

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