My finger stretches out, wrapped in my grandfather’s gold. I see it, my pause button just out of reach like an unforgiving mirage. It doubles and blurs as a sheen of tears overlays the image. My chest hiccups and heaves as I rack my brain for how to breathe, to slow down, to calm. I draw a blank. I set one foot behind the other, perfectly placed with a dancer’s grace, defying the syncopated rhythm of my heaving chest. Back, back, back I go, my finger quivering and growing further away from the target. I retreat until the backs of my legs slam against the deskchair’s lip, buckling and surrendering to the fall. My back stiffens as I feel the chair beneath me, the cold surface a perfect complement to a seemingly detached mind. I surrender. Slumped over and head hung, my eyelids flutter as I fight to keep them closed, each fear and unbridled thought liquifying and seeping through, coating my cheeks with their presence. This is a moment alone. A moment wanted. Needed.
The anguish that had dulled begins to simmer again, an uncontainable, uncontrollable boil. I look up. I spring forward with reckless abandon, finger outstretched and resolve unhindered. I am determined. Determined to hit pause in time, on my terms, to simply have a break. I can’t breathe, I can’t think. I just need. To hit. Pause. The ground below me begins to splinter. Each crack in the foundation elongates, extending toward me with its threatening fractures. As I crane my neck to look around, I notice the pristine façade it once was is now gone, no surface left unscathed. Thank God. It was never real anyways. The ruptures grow longer as I grow faster, my movements accelerating the destruction, my destruction. I am determined.
I am terrified. The warm air brushes my face as I refuse to look down; the splintered foundation below me ceases to be relevant. Steeling myself for the impact, my finger cuts through the haze and murk of a distorted perspective. The once-suffocating thoughts finally dissipate. I finally exhale.
I hit pause.