“You’ve been treating it like a summer home; vacant, drafty, neglected; and yet you expect it to be in top working order whenever you decide to honor it with your presence”, he scolds.

“But I must inhabit the bustling city, my first home, if I am to survive the marathons of days of disembodied vigilance.” I protest. “Why don’t you just leave me alone?”

“You don’t get it,” he expectorates, eyes narrowing and finger wagging.
“I’m just the messenger, telling you something you already know.”

I try pleading.
“Why must you scream so loud? Can’t you give me more time?
Surely we can make a deal.”

“There are no shortcuts,”
she responds, firm yet kind.
“I should know. I’ve traveled all the way from the end of the line, up your nerves and into your synapses. You have no choice but to climb down from your high tower, through your neck, beyond your shoulders, past your liver, kidneys, and hips, to fingers, legs, and toes. Be with them, or they will keep sending me after you, as your benevolent warden.”

I blink, pedaling fruitlessly through the couscous
holding back unwanted questions.

What am I willing to give up
to be rid of him?

Should I offer my ambition as hush money?

Or do the back taxes pour in faster than my legs can kick?
It’s already broken now.

~ Pia Majumdar

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