Relief is a clam shell, heavy with ridges, snapping shut like a grandma’s handbag. It was a long season for the clam, cracked open on a rock. Seawater washed salt across its pulpy gray body. Relief is not the clam shell opening. People think that. They’re wrong. When I am anxious, I am always open. I am a constant weeping sore. My pus leaves behind greasy oilslicks on people’s furniture. So I go nowhere but it’s not because I’m a closed shell. It’s because I can’t fucking find my hinges to save my goddamned life so I take up too much room everywhere I go. I carry the acrid smell of brine, and my shell splits like torn cuticles. My flesh pops with ragged blisters under the sun’s heat. I am rotting. And everyone knows what rot looks like. What it smells like.
But when relieved and hopeful, I slip from the grainy rocks into the dark water. My shell eases shut along the buttered hinges and my smell blends with the ocean. Not one thing about me is notable to the sea, but in my shell, I am cool and calm and quiet and my thoughts filter in and out. Funnels of light circle with tiny sealife.