My parents died young, I hoped that was my turn. When the first sting stroke, sharp and deep through my temple and into my soul, I knew what was coming. The ghost stingers, the venom. Piercing through the side of my skull, pouring the poison inside. The dismaying pain, the stab and squeeze, stab and squeeze, for hours, until no wish remains. After that, it would come multiple times per day, for weeks, before it goes to sleep. I can’t see myself through that. Not again.
It comes. Stabs, then squeezes and stabs again. I wait. It’s been a year of peace, but I had that before, peace, before the pain returned. Maybe this will be a short one. I scream: help! Body shakes. Fear or symptom, don’t know. Nobody answers.
Squeeze. Between the ear and the eye, five nails dig into my flesh. Would rip the skin and everything behind if I could. Stabs escalate. Stronger. Faster. Hurting so much they can be heard: Tween! Tween! Tween! My left eyelid falls lifeless, and the ball rolls inside. It always starts like that. Always gets much worse too.
Wish the world could disappear into nothing. Will this be the time I do it?
Squeeze. The head grows from the inside and tries to thrust my eye out its hole. I push it back in with the fist, the palm, knee, everything I find, any position I can arrange. Another stab. The face curls, bone and everything, twitching in agony. In the darkness of myself, it’s just the shrieking and the heart racing. Outside, the sweat pours, cold. I beg the immortals for an end. Stab, stab, stab. Crush me, please. Stab, stab, stab. Engulf me whole. There is no time anymore, no future possible from here.
Open my eyes again. Barely. World still there. Why? Carry me, mother. Pain still throbs, but light changed. How long has it been? Has the sun gone down already? Or it’s the pain blinding me again? “Too much yang.” – Shifu said once. That didn’t soften the stab. Never stopped the squeeze.
Breathe, Yinyin, breathe.
The torment persists. The stingers, invisible, poisonous, giant. Now in swarms. Relentless. Attacking the side of my head, eye, jaw; and everything I have inside shoots through my mouth. I moan the cry of a dying moose. Scream and curl. Flat on the floor, my body twists over my spills and all I can think about is how soothing that is. Not for long.
Please, let the curse take me, this time!
Give me the fate of my ancestors.
I have no kids, no family to leave in grief. My death has no teeth.
The Dao doesn’t listen, and there’s nothing I can do. Head is squished again. From the inside. Had Shifu left any swords around, I would have sliced my face. Dropped my aching part and run to the mountains. Disfigured, yet in peace. Had he left a spear or a dart, they would be through my right eye by now, all the way to the back of the skull. Probably I’d be dead. Don’t care.
Instead, I bang the side of my head on the floor. Foot of a table. A hard edged stool. The inferior pain dulls me for an instant. Irony: my fists have knocked out so many people. But one cannot punch herself to sleep. That’s it. Need something hard.
Squeeze, stab. Fuck! A rock, a hammer, any heavy tool will do. Please?! None came.
I find the strongest edge. Before the next stab, I run. Jump.
Hit my head as hard as I can.