Élan did what everyone always did after an extraction. She sat down at her desk and inspected her scar. The cut was on her left hand, it was small starting halfway down her little finger and running down into her palm. The line wasn’t perfectly straight it curved like a wayward eyelash the blood had dried and darkened and a scab had started to form. She brushed her fingers over it, it felt rough and mottled. When she clenched her fist the dull sting disappeared, when she opened up her palm and stretched her fingers fresh blood bubbled up from beneath the half formed scab and the pain was sharp and thudding. It gave her something to focus on.
Her body was recalibrating. It was adjusting to the absence but her mind was slow to catch up. She reached for her pen, positioning it between her fingers as she had so many times before, her thumb bolstering her grip, fingertips pressed against the black plastic. She touched the nib to the paper noticing the faint blue lines and the mathematically positioned margin. It was in the middle of this thought that something strange happened. Her head told her she had done it, that she had tricked the extraction and was writing line after line after line. She was writing so fast she wasn’t even sure what she was writing. At the same time her body, calm and efficient compelled her to follow its instructions. It was several minutes until she noticed the pen was back in the pot and her notebook had been pushed to the back of the desk. What most disturbed her was realising her hands were sunk deep into her pockets as if they had been there a while, patiently waiting for her to notice.
She pulled her hands out of her pockets and opened the notebook to check. There was nothing there, not even an ink blot. She took the pen out of the pot and repeated her actions, this time she was acutely aware of her body’s rebellion as it disobeyed her and placed the lid back on the pen and put it back in the pot. Her throat was dry and her tongue felt swollen. She couldn’t remember the last time she had eaten. She made her way to the small shared kitchen keeping her head down and demeanour suitably cold in order to prevent any kind of conversation with the other tenants in the block. She found some rye bread in her cupboard and poured a small amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar into a coupette that still faintly smelt of whiskey. She carried her food back to the room, laid it out on her desk and tore a small square of rye bread off dipping it into the dressing. The balsamic vinegar smeared up the glass and drizzled over the edge dripping down the rim. She chewed slowly enjoying the sharpness of its taste.
The syringe played on her mind, such a strange device. It wasn’t really a syringe but she didn’t know what else to call it. She tore another piece of rye bread off and dipped it, swirling the dark ink like colour of the vinegar and trying to make it blend with the oil. The walls of her room were covered in prints, paintings and photographs, a few small collages and a couple of vintage posters. Above her desk was her favourite print a pencil drawing by Liu Dan. It was a pencil drawing of a flame in preparation for a larger body of work. It mesmerised her, billowing in and out, twisting, unraveling in constant motion in a perfectly still picture. The feeling rushed up her throat, she ran to the small sink by the door and vomited what looked like muddy river water into the bowl. She twisted open the cold tap and watched it swill down the plughole. She splashed water onto her face and cleaned her hands. She glimpsed herself in the mirror pale and sweaty. She opened a window and moved to the bed lying on top of the duvet. She closed her eyes leaning her head back onto two neatly piled pillows and felt the evening breeze flicker across her face. The only thing that comforted her was the bare bulb and the plain white ceiling. There was something about that clean uncluttered space.
When she cast her eyes around the room, glimpsing the objects in it, the urge to vomit surged through her body. She gulped gently, fixing her eyes on the ceiling. This was how she fell asleep staring at the tungsten coil focusing on the faded white ceiling, she knew what she had to do and in the morning she would begin.