Sometimes I still get like that think I might turn eight, wake up screaming into the night- it's too real, I'm terrified of my own insides. Sometimes I can't remember if it was a dream, because since then panic has felt like choking on water that tastes like the world is too real, tastes like not coping tastes like knocks on the door telling you grow up. This time you can't sink beneath navy blue carpets so you see a swimming pool, think hey, maybe I can jump in to cool my sadness down.
I was the child they taught to swim when you left, thinking that maybe that if I knew not to drown then making eye contact wouldn't feel like making myself smaller to fit into tighter spaces, wouldn't taste like acid into places where only oxygen fits.
Sometimes I still get like that time flips itself over, scraping the pool tiles with blunt fingers- how old was I the first time you asked me what I ate today, am I okay, am I okay, am I okay? Sometimes the dream reacurres, though now living tastes like trying to swallow everything above the chlorine surface, and I can't remember the last time I was terrified of my insides.
I'm not screaming at night any more, though this time no one arrives to pull me back to the places where I can breathe. I'm comfortably numb until I realise I'm eight, sadness is cold and I can't swim.