The Cold


Tuesday, June 4

I’m leaking brain fluid through my nose.

I’m pretty sure it’s brain fluid.

There have been a rash of brain-fluid-leaking stories on the internet. And my nose is running. And it won’t stop. I’ve finished off a five-year old box of tissues and have installed a roll of toilet paper by my bed.

I use the cheap kind.

It’s better for the pipes.

I can’t believe I have a hole in my brain. Just when things were going so well.

This is a terrible way to start to the week.

Wednesday, June 5

I am still leaking brain fluid. It must be a really big hole.

I am entering a dark tunnel. I am being pulled by unseen forces into the turbulent waters of a muted, dim world.

Thankfully, I have my faithful dog to comfort me. To remind me to pet her, to feed her, to throw her ball, to walk her, and pick up her poop as I whither away.

She’s a kind empath and a good and loyal friend. Sensitive to my every need.

Thursday, June 6

I can’t breathe.

It’s popcorn lung.

I’m pretty sure it’s popcorn lung.

I don’t eat microwave popcorn, but someone at works pops it every night. Every night I pass through a cloud of alluring smells – chemicals made to taste like food.

I know caught it from him.

I’ve breathing through my mouth due to my nose leaking brain fluid. I can’t smell a thing. Can’t taste a thing. So, it’s likely that I got a huge mouthful of fake butter fumes.

What if my taste buds stop working all together and my appetite never returns. Will I waste away, blown by a whispering wind into to the ethers of the universe. If I disappear, you’ll know what happened to me.

Make sure someone feeds my dog?

Despite all, I go on a date. He doesn’t notice I’m wasting away. He doesn’t notice that I list slightly to the left. He doesn’t notice my glazed look or the shortness of my breath. I’m not sure what he sees when he looks at me.

I’m not sure what I see when I look at him.

My eyesight is dimming. I think I might be going blind.

Pieces of the puzzle are laid out in front of us. Will I have the energy to fit them together?

Better have another sake. It’ll take the pain away.

I can’t believe I caught popcorn lung.


Friday, June 7

The hole in my brain might be shrinking.

Maybe it was a runny nose after all.

The popcorn lung has turned into whooping-cough.

It’s a gravelly, guttural cough that actually feels good. Green gook, and all.

Maybe it’s tuberculosis.

Maybe I’m dying.

I should fill out the will I bought from the office supply seven years ago. I rediscovered it three weeks ago, unopened in its original packaging while I was rearranging my books.

But writing my will requires using a pen. Which is on the desk. Which seems so far away.

Outside, the skies have opened up. Flood warnings. Torrential rain. Puddles.

I wrest myself from the love seat, where I’ve serve as malleable, warm cushion for my sleeping dog. She is clearly concerned for my well-being. I slip into my shoes and sweater and step outside to dodge the raindrops.

My head lolls against the window in the train.

As Eighth Avenue traffic echoes through walls of the tunnel in my mind, I see a man walking down the street. Straw hat, white pants, grey hair flicking out around his neck. From the back it looks like my old Boston date, the rich guy who thinks relationships can be bought with a whiff of Tiffany’s jewelry and the tease of a Jimmy Choo shoe. Surely, no one else would be eccentric enough to dress like a 1940’s dandy in the face of a monsoon.

I huddle under my Canadian army fleece, it’s arms wrapped around my neck. A baseball cap. A sweatshirt with a wad of tissue shoved up the sleeve. In short, I don’t him to see me.

I quicken my step. Pass him to the left, veer into the vitamin store, and contort myself around the protein powder display in order to peer out the store window.

“Can I help you,” asks the clerk behind the counter.

“I just saw someone I don’t want to see,” I wheeze, “or, I mean – I don’t want him to see me.”

“Got it,” says the clerk, watching me.

“I’m not casing out the joint or anything.”


I adjust my angle, trying to see further up the avenue. Maybe he saw me and ducked into another store to do the same. Or maybe he was a hallucination haunting my addled, leaky brain.

I wait.

No straw hat. No white pants. No strange smile or imperious attitude.

“Thanks,” I croak, tossing a look over my shoulder. “City life.”

Saturday, June 8

The retaining wall between the apartment building caddy corner to mine has collapsed. I awake to the deafening sound of tons of rubble, rock, and concrete making a new home in my very unfortunate neighbor’s apartment.

Moments later, a plaintive voice cuts through the dark. I imagine her pulled violently from the IMG_6800innocent joy of sleep, barefoot and wild-haired, haunting the alley.

“Julio,” she half whispers, half whines. “Julio, I need you. Something’s happened. Julio. Wake up.”

Julio wakes up and trips out of his apartment. He shines a flashlight on the rubble and stammers. “Holy shit.”

Another person joins the chorus.

“Holy shit.”

I balance on my closed toiled and lean out of the bathroom window, watching people collect.

“Should we call the fire department,” Julio asks in a thick Dominican accent.

The problem is bigger than him. Bigger than the collecting crowd. Bigger than me on my precarious perch.

“I guess.”

Moments later, the sirens scream.

It feels like the sky is falling.

I go back to sleep.

Sunday, June 9

Someone whistles outside my window. It’s a beautiful tune that cuts through the chirping birds and echoes through the dirt and muck.

My nose has stopped running. The hole in my head must’ve finally plugged up. No signs of popcorn lung. The Ayurvedic herbs have cured my tuberculosis. And the whooping-cough has diminished to a manageable itch in the back of my throat.

I’m a tiny bit hungry. The coffee tastes really good. My loving dog has insisted on taking me on a convalescent walk through Central Park and has even humored me with a game of “throw the ball.”

One more day and the weeks is over.

Thank God I made it out alive.


1 thought on “The Cold

  1. How I’ve missed your writing. That’s what company will do to your blog reading. What a sad yet humorous week you went through. It occurs to me that you need to meet a friend of mine, Tim. He runs a theatre company called No Hope. They find the humor in the dark and I think you would enjoy each other…not as a set up, he’s gay and just got married…as intellectual friends. 🙂

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