Blind Hallway Adventures

I monopolise conversations. It’s one of my more irritating habits. I start talking and don’t stop, and sometimes I do it to make sure I finish before someone nabs my punchline. Other times, I do it to keep anyone else from chiming in. I’m not sure what I expect them to say, but I don’t want them saying it, and I use my mouth to stop them.

Sometimes, I get interrupted, and I stop. I let someone else have their say.

Other times, I get interrupted and keep going, and it’s nuts how long some folks’ll try—how long they’ll talk over me when they don’t have the conversational right-of-way.

Today, I’m blethering on because my main topic’s embarrassing. I’ve got this infected tooth, see. It’s all raw and tender, but yesterday was worse. Yesterday was really worse. My whole jaw swelled up, and I had a fever. I kept poking at it, y’know, kept poking my face, to see if it’d swelled more. I don’t think that helped. In fact, I’m sure it didn’t. I’d poke, wait a while, then poke some more, and each poke felt worse than the last.

I didn’t know what to do, so I washed my mouth with salt water. I washed it every hour. Today, the pain’s gone, and the fever as well, but my jaw’s still puffed up. I still can’t stop poking. I need oven gloves.

Anyway, here’s the embarrassing bit: I couldn’t call for help. I was too afraid to call for help. I knew if I did, they’d tell me “go to emergency,” and I didn’t want to go. So I didn’t call anyone, and I worked instead.

It’s not my teeth killing me. It’s my fear. I can’t distinguish my rational fear of death from my irrational fear of everybody I don’t know—or I can, but they feel exactly the same, so I don’t call for help. I distract myself with work. I’ve maybe got away with it this time. I probably have, but I need to get out more. I need to get used to it, so I’ll stop doing this.

The swelling’s gone down on the inside of my mouth. It’s just the outside that’s bad, and not as bad as before. It looks awful, but I can get my mouth closed. I can have water again, without pouring it down my front.

On the positive side, I wrote four thousand words yesterday and learned a bunch of Russian. I cleaned out my fridge and found the ice trays I thought I’d lost. Dodging reality makes me highly productive, but one day it’ll make me dead. This has to stop.

I’ll finish writing this entry and walk to the end of the hall. Or maybe not that far. My feet are quite sore. I’ll…sit on the ledge in the hall for ten minutes. Or, no. I’ll do it now, and take a picture to prove I did, and if somebody sees me (and my swollen jaw), I’ll endure the embarrassment and pretend I’m not bothered. Hold on.

Okay. There I am. That’s my reflection in the window. You can tell that’s the hallway and not my bedroom because you can see the windows on both sides, and they’re really close together, like in a hallway. Because that’s the hallway.

I made it six minutes, not ten. Three people walked past me, one of whom had a dog. One of them (not the dog-walker) commented on my slippers. He said he liked them, but I think he was mocking me for wearing them outside. I kept my hair over my face so my jaw wouldn’t show.

This makes me sound bad. I know that. It’s just, last time I went out, I got hit by a car. The time before that, I got trapped in a vestibule. I can’t see, and it’s terrifying—I can’t make out faces till they’re close enough to punch. I don’t know who I’m talking to, or if they have knives. I get jumpy and flustered and forget to look down. I get my feet caught in things. Step in puddles.

This has to stop.

I feel silly already. Don’t make me feel sillier. It’s gone far enough, this skulking indoors. I know. It’s just blurry out there. There are strangers and cars, and strangers in cars. There are dogs with big teeth, sharp things I can’t see. It’s too dark with glasses, too bright without.

Hm. It’s time to wash my mouth again. I hope I’m unpuffed tomorrow.

This is bad. I don’t like it. I have to be less timid.

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