Her veins overfilled. Adrenaline streamed into them. The water main spigot of her circulatory system had been opened by some unseen hand. A spurting explosion of her leg muscles catapulted her from the bed, panties and tanktop stripped in a flurry and floated to the carpet after their brief flight. Even in her thirties, Paige felt newborn, like speed and strength were new acquaintances even though they’d met her plenty of times over the years. Already coated with the initial splash of the shower, she abandoned it momentarily and left a trail of wet footprints back to her nightstand. She grabbed her cellphone.
Hey, I need your help. Paige’s shaking fingers hovered over the keyboard, awaiting the reply text from her co-worker.
“I know we just work together but we’re more than that; we are family,” her co-worker, Zinnia, had once said. Paige had been having problems with her boyfriend then, which she’d tried to conceal. But when a wavering voice showed up on the other end of her phone one Sunday evening, Zinnia saw all the hints clearly in hindsight; Paige’s overzealous humor while at work hadn’t served as a successful veneer for her difficulties at home.
“Whenever you need help, don’t keep this to yourself anymore. We’ve all been through some shit and there will be no judgement passed no matter what happens with him, good or bad.” Zinnia’s open heart had built a special bridge between the two women, which Paige had no intention of taking for granted nor taking advantage of.
What’s going on?
Paige had begun typing an explanation even before her co-worker asked that predictable question.
I am so sorry. Embarrassed. I’m a fucking idiot. Just woke up. Alarm didn’t go off. Can you cover my 1st period class til I get there?
100%! I have my post-observation conference with admin at 8:00 but I can cover til then.
Awesome. Thank you so much. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry!
Girl, please! Do you know how many times I’m rushing in late as fuck??? A lot! Don’t worry, I got you!!! xoxo
It was surprising to Paige, that stress and fear hadn’t invaded her this time, one of three times she’d been late to work in her dozen years as a teacher. Instead of where her mind typically took her, towards an onslaught of negative thoughts, something caused her to take notice and focus on her body, the anatomy of it in those moments. Every part of her was unencumbered. There was grace. There was agility. There was sharpness. She didn’t have one misstep as she readied herself and, as any woman knows, the morning routine is intricate and time-consuming. But a fraction of the time was needed that morning.
Paige found it hard to contain her movements. It seemed a lifetime’s worth of kinetic energy was seething. Even turning the steering wheel of her Hyundai was a herculean feather-lifting demonstration. I could push this car to work, she thought. What a shame it was to even have a car on that day; Paige’s Sonic-the-Hedgehog abilities were going to waste. Realizing she wasn’t feeling down or irritable at all, she wondered if this was the draw of cocaine or amphetamines, both of which were to always be out-of-the-question for her; that just wasn’t her scene. Still, she was buzzing nonetheless. Sleepiness, calmness, had encapsulated her for so long, this was an awakening, an incredibly enjoyable one actually.
It wasn’t until Paige reached the parking lot of the Junior High that she finally took a bite of the apple she’d stuffed in her coat pocket and had almost forgotten about. She promptly threw it over the chain-link fence into the ungroomed, abandoned lot adjacent to the gymnasium. It was rotten but even still, she would’ve had to force herself to eat it if it wasn’t. The adrenaline had made breakfast completely moot. In that moment she could tear down a skyscraper with her bare hands even if her stomach had been empty for three days.
Dutifully and silently reading their assigned civil rights novels, Paige’s first hour Honors English students hardly blinked when she walked in late. Zinnia and Paige smiled at each other and whispered, exchanging thank-you’s and no-problem’s. Paige took the reins of control back as Zinnia left for her meeting, a changing of the guards.
She looked out over the stillness of the students’ hunched bodies. They looked so comfortable, so relaxed. Paige knew she was lucky to have had them assigned to her class that year; they made her job easy. Nearly all twenty-three of the young adults were incredibly clever, deep thinkers, comprised of fangirls, geometry whizzes, fact-holders, and scholastic bowl champions. What would their lives be like? Paige wondered. Of course she knew they’d go on to be the top of their high school class, graduate from a prestigious university, land a high-paying job, have a family. The works. But would that fulfill them? Would that be a good enough use of their talents and drive?
That wasn’t even a crisis. My pathetic I’m-late-for-work morning. So trivial. Mundane and unimportant, Paige thought, staring unfocused at the attendance records screen on her laptop. There were people dying and suffering out there, their hearts always pounding with gallons of adrenal fluids, bellies scarce with food and water. She then felt grounded with the reverberations of all the struggles of her fellow man. I am so lucky to be a person who is comfortably alive yet I wonder whether I am actually living. She was suddenly shrinking down, silly and small.
Paige’s body had begun to prepare itself for battle when she woke up late. To prepare for an absolution that would never come, for there was no battle to be had. Now, sitting on the cushioned desk chair, she was biologically primed, her knees bouncing frantically, for a strenuous lashing out and she had nowhere to put the energy.
There were no fights to fight in this routine of hers, no actual beasts and boars to hunt, no danger to run from. It was safe. Her life was too safe. The only somewhat-threatening danger in her life was an angry, moody boyfriend who had been dealt with easily with next to no effort. But her body still screamed like it knew something she didn’t. It longed for a time where this physically pumped-up state was needed. The routine-laiden life she had and the life by which her body was designed were in dischord and a sense of purposelessness replaced the adrenaline.
Trying to keep a peaceful and light attitude, she slowly slipped back into things as they were, absent of any heightened senses. Foggy. The tragedy of what may never be fulfilled saddened her. The prison of this particular day-to-day life would probably have her shackled until her days ran down. However, Paige held fast to something she always had, even tighter since she’d just gotten a taste. The hope was there, and she could have that infinitely, that someday there might be a reason in which that adrenaline and physical strength would well up welcomingly and be simultaneously useful in a perfect alignment.