Electric Blue Anxiety

When I get overwhelmed by life— even the happy things!— there comes a point in my creative process where the electric snapping of ideas dwindles to a soft glow. I’ve curated prompts for when these moments come, but occasionally the bits of dialogue or the opening lines just sort of swim in front of my eyes. My brain scurries between them like a mouse set down on a kitchen counter sporting a hundred choices of cheese. This one? That one? This one? That one?

Out of the frantic wheel spin of choice, other thoughts materialize, floating to the surface like semi-buoyant apples in a bath I’m meant to bob in. They turn their iridescent skins for just a moment above the surface before being jostled below by something— my newborn nephew— isn’t he cute!— Christmas— what should I buy?— my sister’s wedding— should I write a speech?— worries at work— worries with relationships…

And then it’s just all those same anxieties bobbing to the surface, flashing me their skin, and then rolling under again.

My pen scratches at the notebook paper: Everything tasted of paper, I write. Everything tasted of… Everything… tasted…

I ball my fist around my pen and stare at the words. Why? What do they even mean? What’s the point of a man who tastes paper all the time? It’s silly.

Sometimes it was the taste of newsprint, thin and raspy.

But what does it mean? What does it matter?

An electrical arc snaps bright blue in my brain for just one moment, and I take a quick sip of breath.

But the electricity fizzles and sputters and dwindles into a dull blue glow.

My newborn nephew, I think. Isn’t he cute?— My sister’s wedding— I need to order my dress— That loan application— Ugh.

I cover my eyes with the palms of my hands.

I wonder what I should make for dinner.

© 2022

Katie Baker

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